Borthwick Castle chef takes second place National Chef of the Year contest

Derek Johnstone, Head Chef at Borthwick Castle, near Gorebridge.
Derek Johnstone, Head Chef at Borthwick Castle, near Gorebridge.

Derek Johnstone, head chef at Borthwick Castle, has secured the runner-up position in the Craft Guild of Chef’s ‘National Chef of the Year’ competition.

Derek, who joined Borthwick Castle in 2017, finished in second place among 10 finalists who took part in an intense cook-off on Tuesday (October 1) at The Restaurant Show at London’s Olympia Exhibition Centre.

Derek was the only Scottish chef to have reached the finals of the competition.

Last month, Derek was presented with a mystery basket containing the ingredients that he would use to create his menu for the competition final. Derek’s three-course menu, including pan fried fillet of sea bream, roasted saddle of pork, and vanilla poached William pears with clementine and Valrhona dark chocolate impressed the judges, who described Derek’s dishes as “balanced and packed full of flavour.”

The winner of the Craft Guild of Chefs ‘National Chef of the Year’ competition was Steve Groves, Head Chef at Roux at Parliament Square.

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

“I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my time in the National Chef of the Year 2020 competition from start to finish - it’s been a wonderful experience, and I’m thrilled to have been a part of it. I’d also like to say congratulations to Steve on a very well-deserved win.”

David Mulcahy, Vice-President of the Craft Guild of Chefs and organiser of the competition, said: “It was very close for those sought after top spots. The National Chef of the Year is one of the toughest culinary challenges and it was neck and neck throughout.

“The judges were impressed with Derek’s approach to the brief and he used a high level of skill, with all three dishes being balanced and packed full of flavour. It’s a difficult competition which is judged by some of the UK’s most accomplished and Michelin-starred chefs.”

Derek launched his career at a young age, winning the inaugural series of MasterChef: The Professionals in 2008. He later honed his skills working alongside Michel Roux Jr at Le Gavroche and Albert Roux at Chez Roux.

The National Chef of the Year competition is the UK’s most prestigious and respected culinary contest. Launched in 1972 and judged by a panel of more than 40 respected chefs from across the industry, previous winners include Gordon Ramsay, Alyn Williams, Mark Sargeant and Luke Selby.