The Competition

South West Chef of the Year

South West Chef of the year is marking its 20th anniversary in 2024!

Launched in 2004, the competition recognises the extraordinary talent among the professional chefs, student chefs, home cooks and junior cooks of the South West of England and highlights the exceptional standards in the region’s hospitality industry. Five entry categories are available, as outlined below.

Lead sponsor

Entry categories

The competition offers five entry categories:

Professional Chef

Any age and working as a sous chef/pastry chef or above.

Young Professional Chef

Aged 19-24, working in any role in the kitchen up to and including junior sous chef.

Student/Apprentice Chef

Aged 16-19 and at college or in an apprenticeship.

Home Cook

Aged 16+ and never having worked or trained in the catering industry.

Junior Chef

Aged 11-16 and still at school.

In addition to these category awards, one winner will be selected by the judges
to receive the award of

Overall South West Chef of the Year

Why should you enter?

The competition enables you to receive the recognition you deserve for your skills, to gain valuable feedback from our judges, to meet other like-minded chefs/cooks.

Professional and student chefs

Whether you win or not, the competition can provide you with an incredible platform upon which to further develop your career, raise your profile within the industry and demonstrate your skills to our panel of judges, some of the region’s finest chefs.  How good would it look on your CV to be able to say you reached the semi-final or even the final of South West Chef of the Year?

Home Cooks

If you are a keen home cook, taking part in South West Home Cook of the Year enables you to demonstrate your hidden talents, to test your abilities or to cement your reputation as the ultimate dinner party host.  And who knows what else it could lead to?  Perhaps a change of career? Take a look at the details of previous winners of the title to see what opportunities could come your way.

Junior Cooks

This is your opportunity to learn from some of the South West’s leading chefs.  The Junior Chef competition opens doors to several highly-acclaimed kitchens, enabling you to gain valuable experience of a working kitchen whilst developing your skills.  A chance to assess whether or not a career in hospitality is for you!

What are the judges looking for?

Our judging panel is made up of some of the South West’s finest chefs, bringing extensive knowledge and diverse experience to the judging process

At the first stage of the competition, our judges will evaluate all menus entered for the following:

  • the quality and creativity of the recipes entered
  • the balance of the two courses
  • the balance of the ingredients included
  • the skills required to create the menu/dish
  • the use of locally-produced/grown ingredients
Meet our judges

Competition dates 2024

  • Entry closing date (Junior Chef category) – Tuesday 21st May
  • Entry closing date (Prof/Student/Home Cook) – ENTRIES NOT YET OPEN
  • Junior Chef county finals – 17th June – 3rd July
  • Professional and Student/Apprentice Chef semi-finals – Saturday 28th September, Exeter College
  • Home Cook and Junior Chef finals – Saturday 5th October, Exeter College
  • Professional and Student/Apprentice Chef finals – Tuesday 29th October, Exeter College
  • Awards Presentation Dinner – Tuesday 29th October, Exeter Golf and Country Club

The aims of South West Chef of the Year

South West Chef of the Year is run on a not-for-profit basis with the following aims:

  • to highlight the skill and creativity of the region’s professional chefs and amateur cooks;
  • to help nurture up-and-coming young chefs;
  • to provide a platform from which chefs can highlight their skills and develop their careers;
  • to demonstrate the exceptional standards within the hospitality industry of the South West and to reinforce its profile as a region of culinary excellence;
  • to recognise the skills and dedication of the region’s home cooks
  • to help school pupils to develop their culinary skills and their confidence in the kitchen and to support those considering a career in hospitality
  • to highlight the diversity and quality of ingredients grown, reared and produced in the South West

Additional Awards

In addition to the individual category and Overall South West Chef of the Year awards, a range of further awards are also available to our finalists:

  • Best Menu
  • Best Dish
  • Best Presentation
  • Best Showcase of Regional Ingredients

Thank you

We are very fortunate to benefit from the generosity and support of a number of top chefs and suppliers to the industry.  We would like to take this opportunity to thank all of our judges, who give up their time to support the competition and those taking part; our generous suppliers and sponsors; and, of course, all those who enter the competition and put so much hard work into competing.