Head chef cooks up award

Derek Johnstone, head chef at Borthwick Castle
Derek Johnstone, head chef at Borthwick Castle

The head chef at Borthwick Castle picked up a prestigious national award at the Craft Guild of Chef’s National Chef of the Year last week.

Derek Johnstone was the only chef from Scotland to be placed at the awards. Derek received the ‘Exceptional Presentation Award’ and was named one of the best chefs at the hotly contested Craft Guild of Chef’s ‘National Chef of the Year 2019’.

Derek, who joined Borthwick Castle in 2017 following its two-year restoration, was presented with the prestigious awards at a ceremony during The Restaurant Show at London’s Olympia Exhibition Centre.

The awards were presented to Derek following an intense cook-off earlier that day between the 10 finalists from across the UK.

Speaking at the ceremony, Derek said: “It was amazing. Cooking in The National Chef of the Year final was so intense, but I was happy with how it went. To take a place on the podium is a massive achievement during my first year in the competition.

“Thank you to the public who voted online for the Exceptional Presentation Award and to the judges and The Craft Guild of Chefs for an excellent day of superb food and skill.”

The National Chef of the Year award was judged by a hugely experienced panel whilst the Exceptional Presentation Award was judged by both the panel and the public after an intense social media battle. Judges on the panel included Tom Kerridge and Monica Galetti.

Last month, at a Mentor Day, Derek and his co-finalists were provided with three ingredients, which would form the basis of their menu for the final – lobster, grouse and a traditional British pudding with seasonal fruit. Derek’s final menu consisted of a starter of a mousseline of native lobster with poached lobster claw, wilted sea vegetables with a lemongrass and ginger buttermilk sauce.

A main course featuring roasted grouse from the North Yorkshire moors with Scottish girolle mushroom, crispy potato and wilted sprouts with bacon and blueberry game jus.

And he finished with a warm apple, almond and brown butter sponge pudding with vanilla custard, Bramley apple puree and cider apple sorbet.

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.