Competition Invite

National Seafood Chef of the Year Competition Invite, all you need to know about the competition rules, entry, accommodation and travel costs.

Dear Colleague

The competition is open to your full-time and college based modern apprentice chefs. It has been supported by some of the best chefs in the UK, including Rick Stein, Nathan Outlaw, Daniel Clifford, Galton Blackiston, Mark Hix, Mitch Tonks, Cyrus Todiwala, Aiden Byrne, Jean-Christophe Novelli, and Tom Aitkens who have all been head judges at the final held annually in Grimsby. This year’s head judge is yet to be revealed, watch out on social media for updates!

The competition exists to promote the fantastic range of seafood available to us within the UK and showcase the skills of young chefs who are at the early stages of their career. Over the stages of the competition the chefs are to demonstrate filleting, cookery and plating skills in hope to become this years winning team.

Round One
Entries:- This initial entry judging will be assessed by a panel of industry appointed judges. By using the species named on the entry forms, and with the support of the competition rules; teams can submit their menus online, in preparation for the paper judging to take place. Successful teams will be notified by email and go forward to round two. Entries must be in by Thursday 28th March 2024.

Round Two
Culinary Skills: The successful teams, will then go through to the culinary skills judging, which will be held at one of three appointed UK regional hosting colleges. The first 30 minutes of the competition will focus on filleting and preparation (Seafood mise en place) before your team goes on to create the menu submitted in Round One.

Regional Heats
These will take place in May 2024 when the three highest scoring teams will be chosen from each regional heat to go on to compete at the Grand Final on Friday 7th June 2024.

Additional Prizes
As an incentive to inspiring chefs, we have now created three additional prizes per heat. Prizes will be allocated for the Best Starter, Intermediate and Main Courses presented on the day.

Lecturers’ Treat!
For the past few years at the final in June we have successfully introduced a study tours for the competing teams’ college lecturers. From the time the student teams enter the kitchen (10am – 2pm) to compete, their lecturers are no longer allowed to assist, watch or support their students.

So… we decided to treat them all to a bit of fun! Learning with lunch.

As an example, we have previously taken the lecturers to visit seafood businesses with then a lunch at various Michelin star restaurants, including the Pipe & Glass and also Winteringham Fields (location changes annually). This is an opportunity for visiting staff to be rewarded for entering and gaining a place within the final, whilst this also provides great CPD and builds links for you and the department.

The trip is of no cost to the participants, but invaluable and don’t forget your camera!

The seafood species to be used for this year competition are listed below, however please note for the final we will remove the Intermediate course from the menu due to the invention test. Note: If successful in gaining a place at the final you will be required to simply add to the menu “Invention Test” to the second course offered.

Invention Test
Teams going through to the finals in Grimsby will be given an ‘invention test’, all successful teams will receive a list of ingredients and a brief the evening before the final. They will be asked to come up with a dish to replace their original intermediate course that was presented at the regional heats. This dish is a standardisation course in its production, however creativity is allowed on how this dish is presented.

This year’s species will be provided by Premier Seafood

Rainbow Trout and/or Mackerel

Scallops and/or Clams


  • Whole Lemon Sole
  • Whole Whiting
  • Whole Seabass
  1. No other seafood products apart from the species provided or fish bones/shells for stock are to be used in the competition.
  2. Seafood specified is only to be used on the course it is named for (excluding bones or shells) i.e. you can only use Lemon Sole and/or Whiting on the main course.

The challenge is to prepare, cook and present your submitted menu for six covers. Of the six covers:

  • One will be presented to the panel of judges, on time, for tasting and scoring;
  • Four are served to invited VIP guests, for comments;
  • One will be displayed for photography, guests and all teams to view.

Teams are required to bring all their own commodities with them to the heats, excluding the specific seafood species for each course as this is provided by our sponsors. All named products will be provided at each heat and the final. The invention test plates will be provided at the final.

Please ensure that entries highlight the required species amount they require as a total for ease of ordering in preparation for the heats. At each of the heats three teams will be awarded a place at the final, meaning nine teams will compete in June 2024. Teams are scored on teamwork, hygiene, preparation and cooking (see guidelines for an example of filleting criteria). Use the timings provided for the competition found within the pack.

Good Luck!

03/05/24 – Regional Heat to be held at Sunderland College
10/05/24 – Regional Heat to be held at City College Norwich

17/05/24 – Regional Heat to be held at Coleg Llandrillo Cymru, North Wales
07/06/24 – The Grand Final will be held at the Grimsby Institute University Centre, North East Lincolnshire.

As a finalist each team will receive various prizes for getting to the final. For instance:

  • Each team member will receive a chefs jacket, apron and hat the evening prior to the final on Thursday 6th June 2024. (Note this has to be worn the following day at the final).
  • Some prizes awarded are standardized, for example last year each team member gained a signed cook book from Nathan Outlaw, whilst those who placed gained additional books from Rick Stein, Mark Hix and Mitch Tonks.
  • Additional prizes/trophies are awarded for 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th Place. This has included knife sets, bags, equipment for industry, various cook books.
  • Each college gains a trophy for participation, with a matching certificate for each team member and also the team college, irrelevant of place gained.
  • Placement opportunities are available for those who place 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th, such placements have been for Nathan Outlaw, Mitch Tonks and Rick Stein (last year, placements for this year to be announced).
  • Visiting tutors to gain a CPD experience on the day of the final, for example this has been to various Michelin star restaurants over the years.

Note: Prizes will be announced over social media over the duration of the heats and running up to the final.

The choice of seafood will be restricted to the specific species listed in the table below. It is hoped that this will encourage creativity and imagination through craft skills, rather than the use of exotic species and, in addition, raise awareness of sustainability issues amongst entrants to the catering profession.

The below table is to be completed and returned with entry pack, as this is what you will receive at the regional heat if you’re successful with your paper entry.

Starter – Rainbow Trout and/or Mackerel
Intermediate – Scallops and/or clams
Main Course –

  • Whole Lemon Sole
  • Whole Sea Bass
  • Whole Whiting

Each team has to present three courses for six people using the seafood in each category.

    1. A total food cost of £17.50 per person is allowed using market values at the time of entry. All other items needed, including garnishes, should be calculated within the £105 available.
    2. Teams must provide their dishes as per the set times. Please see the Heat Itinerary.
    3. Each team should produce six hard copies of their written menu
      • one for the judging table, to be scored out of 10
      • one for the gallery viewing table
      • four for the customer table.

Marks will be awarded this year by the judges for any educational and informative content relating to the description of dishes, competing student chefs, allergen awareness, design and presentation of the menus. Costing lists are to highlight weights and costs of species and this is to be provided when submitting the entry.

  1. Any fish bones that are required are to be used from the waste of the species used (this can be highlighted as of no cost within your menu costing’s).
  2. The seafood stated for each course is the species to use for the nominated course and cannot be used for any other course (excluding the fish bones or shells).
  3. No additional seafood products can be used, other than the ones stipulated in the species list.
  4. Entrants must be under 25 on enrolment to their course and studying toward either a full-time course or be a college based modern apprentice.

Part One: Filleting (Example of scoring and judging)

Filleting precision252015105
Trimming Skills252015105
Quality of produce252015105
Preparation speed252015105
Waste on bones252015105
Overall Filleting competence252015105

Please note:

  • As this competition is fundamentally based upon the judging of craft skills, NO prior preparation, portioning or weighing out of any ingredient is allowed. Students may be disqualified for pre-prep or pre-portioning. Prior to the start of the competition the judges will visit each work station to ensure that no prior preparation has taken place.
  • Prior to commencing the competition each team will be allowed 30 minutes in order to complete seafood mise en place, if this time is exceeded no further judging will take place against these skills. If the competitors use this 30 minutes and complete all seafood mise en place, then they can use this time to familiarise themselves with the kitchen and/or finish further mise en place.
  • Once all the 30 minutes mise en place time is up, then judges will call teams to start the competition (preparation, cooking, finishing and presenting).
  • The language of the dishes is not at stake, but translation must be supplied for those menus entered in a foreign language.

Each team will prepare, cook and present each of their three courses as follows:

  • One finished plate to a panel of judges, for scoring and tasting.
  • One finished plate to be reserved for competing teams, judges and media, to view at the end of the competition, and to remain in place after the competition for feedback and photography purposes.
  • The remaining four finished plates to invited guests, for dining and comments.
  • All dishes to be presented as if they were to be served in a restaurant.
  • Plates and flats for service should be brought to the competition together with six hard copies of the menu for the guests and viewing tables (Six copies of your menu are required in preparation of the regional heat).

Following the judging of paper entries by the competition’s review judges, teams will be invited to compete at the regional heats which are held at various venues across the UK.

At each of the heats three teams will be chosen to go forward to the Grand Final which will be held on Friday 7th June 2024 at the Grimsby Institute.

After spending the day competing, the winner of the 2024 National Young Seafood Chef of the Year will be announced within the award ceremony at approximately 3pm immediately afterwards.

The regional menus are based on the original paper entry submission for both the regional and the Grand Final. The competition finishes at approximately 4pm.

All entries are to be submitted to the following address by Thursday 28th March 2024:

Carrie-Anne Vaughan
National Seafood Chef of the Year,
Competition Director,
The Grimsby Institute,
Nuns’ Corner,
North East Lincolnshire,
DN34 5BQ.

Each entry submitted will include:

A starter, an intermediate and a main course – ALL using fish species specified in the table attached.

A summary of ingredient costs for each dish, including the method of production for each dish.

Judging will take place in April 2024 and those teams selected for the regional heats will be notified by telephone and email. A maximum of nine teams will then be selected to compete at each regional heat, with three winners going through from each regional heat to attend the Grand Final in June 2024 which provides a total of nine teams to go head to head on Friday 7th June 2024.

08.40Teams arrive – Welcome from Host and refreshments
09.00The draw of Team numbers and assignment of helpers
(1 chef and 2 front of house).
09.10Meet the judges, then proceed to kitchens.
09.20Teams allowed access to a kitchen for setting up
09.30Teams 1 – 4 start 30-minute seafood mise en place
then commence on judges command
10.00Teams 5 – 8 start 30-minute seafood mise en place
then commence on judges command
 Teams 1 – 4Teams 5 – 8
Enter the kitchen09.2009.50
Seafood Mise En Place09:3010:00
Present starter12.3013.00
Present intermediate12.5013.20
Present main course13.1513.45
Leave kitchen13.4514.00
15.00Awards announced
15.25Competition closes
15.30Judges feedback to competitors

 Entrants must be under 25 at time of enrolment and enrolled onto either a full-time course or be a college based modern apprentices.

2. Entry forms to be submitted as per the provided contact details. As per
Deadline Thursday 28th March 2024, if unable to post please email
the entry to [email protected].

Carrie-Anne Vaughan
National Seafood Chef of the Year,
Competition Director,
The Grimsby Institute,
Nuns’ Corner,
North East Lincolnshire,
DN34 5BQ.

3. Entry pack to include the following:

  • Jacket sizes
  • Weights of species
  • Recipes (to include method and ingredients)
  • Menu and Costings
  • One copy of the presentation menu (if successful in round 1, then six copies must be provided at the heat)

4. The organisers will not accept responsibility for entries arriving later than the closing date.

5. The decision of the selection and judging panels will be final.

6. No prior correspondence with the judging panel can take place. To do so will result in that teams’ withdrawal from the competition.

7. Food costs will remain within the maximum amount allowed of £105.

8. The dishes submitted will be the ones produced on the day of the competition.

9. The organisers reserve the right to use recipes and other material for promotional purposes.

10. Successful teams that reach the final may change the presentation, but not the ingredients of their dishes.

For those successful teams travelling to the Grand Final in Grimsby, arrangements for accommodation and pre-final dinner will be organised by The Grimsby Institute. Drinks consumed at dinner or at the hotel will be the responsibility of the team.

Furthermore, if for any reason the hotel at which the team is staying has a justifiable complaint against a team, that team will be disqualified from the final of the competition and charged the full price of their accommodation and food.

Many college teams competing in competitions around the UK are now raising their own funds through sponsorship to assist in travel and accommodation costs.

You may have a local supplier that may want to sponsor your college team.

A fundraiser event at your college is another idea. Why not hold an event to try out your menus on guests with students’ parents and local sponsors attending? Try a raffle on the evening, where prizes are auctioned instead of selling tickets, it can create more money for your team.