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Scottish chef in the finals for UK's National Chef of the Year

Borthwick Castle’s head chef, Derek Johnstone, has reached the finals for National Chef of the Year.

Published: June 21, 2019
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Derek is representing the country as the only Scottish chef to have reached the finals of the prestigious National Chef of the Year contest.

Derek, who joined Borthwick Castle in 2017 following the venue’s two-year restoration, joins nine other chefs from across the UK in the running to be awarded the title of National Chef of the Year 2020.

The winner of the National Chef of the Year 2020 competition will be unveiled at The Restaurant Show at Olympia London on 1 October.

Launched in 1972 and judged by a panel of more than 40 respected chefs from across the industry, the National Chef of the Year competition is the UK’s most prestigious and respected culinary contest

Previous winners of the culinary contest include: Gordon Ramsay, Alyn Williams and Mark Sargeant.

Derek's winning menu, which secured his place in the finals, was a delight of summer Scottish produce and included: smoked haddock royal with Scottish asparagus and morels; grilled oyster and braised cheek of Hardiesmill’s Aberdeen Angus beef with Borlotti beans, chard and kibbled onions; and Alunga milk chocolate tart with Bunnahabhain whisky butter caramel and the first of the season’s Scottish raspberries.

Derek said: “I was delighted to have reached the semi-finals in the National Chef of the Year competition last month, so to have a place in the finals of such a prestigious contest is just wonderful.

"I’m so proud to be representing Scotland on the national stage, and I’m already looking forward to taking on the challenge of the finals in London this autumn.”

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Scottish National Chef of the Year

Picture: Borthwick Castle courtesy of Tony Marsh

Johanne Falconer, General Manager at Borthwick Castle, said: “Derek’s place in the finals for the National Chef of the Year title is a true testament to his dedication, hard work, professional skill and creativity.

"The whole team at Borthwick Castle is absolutely thrilled for him, and we can’t wait to cheer him on in the finals in October.”

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

In late 2017, Derek launched an exclusive seasonal Dining Club at Borthwick Castle, developing bespoke, experimental menus paired with fine wines in a venue which is not normally accessible to the public.

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Incorporating modern cooking techniques with contemporary presentation, Derek’s culinary creations are driving forward Borthwick Castle’s reputation as Scotland’s leading private hire venue for food connoisseurs.

Speaking about the Castle and his appointment in 2017, Derek said: “I am proud to head up the first kitchen team at Borthwick Castle since its extraordinary transformation.

"At the heart of everything we do is showcasing the depth and breadth of the finest Scottish flavours. I am looking forward to collaborating with our guests, whether a wedding party, family gathering or corporate retreat, to deliver truly memorable moments at the table.”


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Known for cake making, experimental jam recipes, Champagne and gin drinking (and the inability to cook Gnocchi), Rosalind writes for The Scotsman on all things food and drink related as well as hosting Scran, The Scotsman's food and drink podcast.

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