Judges for 2024

Simon Hulstone

Simon has been cooking professionally since his school days and is one of the UK’s most decorated chefs. Since 2004, Simon has held the position of chef and proprietor of the Elephant restaurant in Torquay. The Elephant was the first restaurant in Torquay to be awarded a Michelin star which it has maintained since. Simon has twice represented the UK in the Bocuse d’Or, the world’s most prestigious culinary contest. He was captain of the British team in the Culinary Olympics and has also served as captain of the English Culinary Team at the Culinary World Cup.

Simon Hulstone
Nikki Hawkins, Independent Consultant to the Seafood Industry

Nikki J Hawkins, Independent Consultant to the Seafood Industry


ikki has been a part of this Seafood competition since 2003. Nikki is from a Hotel and Hospitality background. Having previously worked in developing the foodservice and events sector for the Sea Fish Industry Authority for over 18 years.

She has an extensive knowledge of seafood, the catering sector and culinary arts

Steven Bennett, The Lincolnshire Chef

Steven is known locally and nationally as The Lincolnshire Chef and is renowned for his locally inspired cooking style. His journey into the world of food and hospitality began after studying at the Grimsby Institute. After landing himself a job in the kitchen straight out of college, Steven worked his way up to head chef. Whilst having worked in gastro and Michelin-starred kitchens, his day to day life sees him running Healing Manor Hotel and driving forward his kitchen brigade, serving locally-sourced, seasonal food.

Steven’s outside catering company, which sits under The Lincolnshire Chef brand, is run from Healing Manor Hotel and uses the roof of the barn as its office and kitchens. In recent years, The Lincolnshire Chef has catered for the Battle of Britain 60th Anniversary Memorial Flight – a dinner for 200 war veterans with invitees including celebrity clients and the Prince of Wales, Prince William.

steven bennett

Previous Judges 2023

Gareth Bartram

Gareth Bartram, Michelin star chef

Gareth studied at catering college in Grimsby and then landed a job in London at Gordon Ramsay’s Boxwood Café aged 19. He went on to work for three years at Jack’s Restaurant in Corsham, Bath, where he worked under Jamie Hirst and then moved to North Lincolnshire to work for Colin McGurran at Winteringham Fields (1*).

He worked his way up to Head Chef in 2018, and that same year they were awarded one Michelin star for the 2019 guide, which they have held ever since.

Ben Bartlett, Masterchef of Great Britain


en is one of the UK’s foremost demonstration chefs and author of several notable cookery books. His first book “The BBQ Manual” published by Haynes is available in 75 countries and his latest hardback “Essential BBQ Herbs & Spices” has just been published.

He was the first winner of Britain’s Best BBQer and regularly appears on television and radio. This year he will be demonstrating sustainable British seafish and shellfish at 25 Great British Food Festivals across the country.

Last year Ben became an Ambassador for Love British Food and is a Board Member of the Masterchefs of Great Britain.

ben bartlett
James Mackenzie

James Mackenzie, the Pipe and Glass

Raised in Filey on the North Yorkshire coast, James Mackenzie started his career in the kitchen at just 13 years old, before going on to train at Scarborough Technical College.

In 2006, James and his wife Kate took over the Pipe and Glass in South Dalton, near Beverley and have created a warm, comfortable Yorkshire country pub, where customers can drop in for a pint of local ale, tuck into classic ‘pub grub’ dishes or enjoy the highest standards of modern cuisine.

In 2010, the Pipe and Glass was awarded East Yorkshire’s first Michelin Star, an award that it has retained ever since. Other notable recognition and awards have followed, including the title of Michelin Pub of the Year, the Good Pub Guides ‘National Dining Pub’ and ‘Yorkshire Dining Pub’ of the Year, as well as the Good Hotel Guides ‘Inn of the Year’ and consistently featuring in the Morning Advertiser Estrella Damn Top 50 Gastropubs.

Nathan Outlaw

Nathan Outlaw, Restaurateur & Food Writer

Originally from Kent, Nathan attended Thanet College and then began his career at the Intercontinental, Hyde Park Corner with the late Peter Kromberg where he experienced cuisines from across the world. After short spells with Gary Rhodes and Eric Chavot, his fascination with seafood cookery drew him to Cornwall to work with Rick Stein at The Seafood Restaurant in Padstow.

Nathan’s style of cooking is one of simplicity but with complex flavour combinations using local, seasonal, responsibly sourced ingredients.

He has had several restaurants in the UK and abroad, the most famous being Restaurant Nathan Outlaw (2 Michelin stars) which was rated number 1 in the Waitrose & Partners Good Food Guide 2018 & 2019, and scored 10/10 for cooking for three consecutive years.

Mitch Tonks, Restaurateur, Food Writer & CEO

Mitch Tonks is the founder and CEO of the seafood restaurant group Rockfish, a unique seafood restaurant business that catches, processes and serves local seafood at 9 coastal locations in the South-West. He also founded and runs the award-winning Seahorse restaurant in Dartmouth and has written 7 cookbooks.

Over his 25 year career in seafood as a fishmonger, chef, restaurateur and CEO he has been a leading, respected and credible voice for seafood, a champion of British fishing and fishermen and the South West fish market in Brixham. His mission is to get more people to enjoy British seafood in the UK, reducing exports, reducing imports, reducing waste and showing people how great our island’s seafood is.

mitch tonks
mark hix

Mark Hix, Eminent Restaurateur & Food Author

Mark is frequently lauded as one of Britain’s most eminent restaurateurs with an unrivalled knowledge of ingredients with provenance. He is an award-winning author and food writer with 12 cookbooks to his name, the latest of which, Hooked, regales stories of fishing from his childhood through to the present day.

Mark opened The Oyster & Fish House in Lyme Regis in July 2020 as well as launching his HIX Oyster & Fish Truck in Morcombelake, selling wet fish and seafood from Lyme Bay Reserve fishermen. He opened The Fox Inn pub in Corscombe in December 2020 which focuses on local meat and game dishes with it’s own Kitchen Garden supplying the chefs with fresh vegetables and herbs every day.