Midlothian castle’s chef up for national award

Borthwick Castle's chef Derek Johnstone has been shortlisted for The Craft Guild of Chefs' National Chef of the Year Awards.
Borthwick Castle's chef Derek Johnstone has been shortlisted for The Craft Guild of Chefs' National Chef of the Year Awards.

Borthwick Castle’s chef Derek Johnstone has been shortlisted for The Craft Guild of Chefs National Chef of the Year Awards.

Overseen by Gary Jones, executive head chef at Belmond Le Manoir, as Chair of judges David Mulcahy, Alyn Williams, Peter Joyner, Andrew Bennett, Russell Bateman, Phil Howard, Steve Scuffell, Sarah Hartnett, Gary Hunter and Willie Pike, whittled the impressive list down to 40.

At this stage, all judges scores are based on descriptions of dishes, cooking method and photographs of the completed menus.

The Sheffield semi-final of the competition will take place on June 12.

Derek Johnstone said: “It’s every chef’s dream to compete in the prestigious National Chef of the Year Awards and thanks to the support and backing of the team here at Borthwick Castle, that dream has become a reality.

“It’s an honour to get through to the final stages and I’m looking forward to the challenge of the semi-finals in a couple of weeks’ time.”

As winner of the inaugural MasterChef the Professionals in 2008, Derek joined Michel Roux Jnr at Le Gavroche then continued with the Roux family dynasty in both London and Scotland. In 2014, as chef patron, Johnstone moved to the Golf Inn in Gullane, East Lothian.

Johnstone joined Borthwick Castle in 2017 following its two-year restoration. His menus are classical based with contemporary presentation incorporating modern cooking techniques. In late 2017 he launched an exclusive seasonal dining club at Borthwick which celebrates bespoke experiential menus paired with fine wines.

A spokesman for Borthwick Castle said: “We are delighted for Derek and wish him well in the semi-finals. Derek’s food is a delicate and contemporary take on Scottish cuisine which supports Borthwick’s primary desire to remain authentic whilst offering modern luxury.

“His finesse is obvious; his courage is inspiring; his demeanour is engaging. During his interview at Borthwick Castle, Derek presented a soufflé for dessert, bravely whipped up in a kitchen he hadn’t used before; it was truly the piece de resistance!”