Following a tense final at the Restaurant Show, Belfast’s James Devine has been announced as the new National Chef of the Year.
Taking place just this week on October 4, James, who is Sous Chef at the delicious Deanes Eipic, triumphed in the UK’s most prestigious culinary competition with a winning menu. It featuried Tees Valley Rib of Beef and a soft centered chocolate & coffee tart.
Taking a close second was Adam Thomason of Deloitte, Restaurant Associates and in third place was Charles Smith of Alyn Williams at The Mayfair.
Delighted with his win, James Devine commented: “I’m honoured, I never expected to win or to come this far. Today went well for me, I kept calm and was pleased with the way all my dishes came out. Each dish was something I’d happily eat or serve up. Right now, I feel humbled and very excited at the same time.”
As the winner, James Devine is now part of the National Chef of the Year ‘Hall of Fame’, which represents culinary excellence and offers the chance to meet and work with some of the most exciting industry names.
He also wins a range of special prizes including a once-in-a-lifetime trip to one of the world’s top restaurants, stagiaire opportunities, equipment from sponsors and chocolate workshops.
Best of all, having won the life-changing title, James now has the chance to follow in the footsteps of some the country’s most successful chefs, such as Alyn Williams, Gordon Ramsay and Mark Sargeant who have all previously held the title.
This year’s competition was one of the toughest yet, with an incredible list of high profile judges to impress, including Daniel Doherty – Group Executive Chef for Duck & Waffle Restaurants, Gary Jones – Executive Head Chef at Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons, Claude Bosi – Chef Patron at Hibiscus and many more.
How James Got Started
“I was relatively late starting in the industry, aged 20, as I had planned to pursue a career in law. Despite my acceptance to Queens University Belfast I opted to take a year out instead. During this time, I worked as a Kitchen Porter in a local restaurant and got the bug pretty instantly.
“Previous roles have included Head Chef at the Black Cat Restaurant and Deli on the Green in Dungannon and part-time Culinary Art Lecturer in local colleges.
“Jamie Oliver, embarrassingly, was who I wanted to be like and I pictured that all chefs were footloose and carefree like him. Unfortunately, I had not seen Ramsey’s Boiling Point until some months later.
“Whilst I instantly liked the industry, I was by no means naturally gifted or talented and spent the first few years covered in cuts and feeling sorry for myself.
“I admired Northern Irish chefs such as Michael Deane and Barry Smyth. Throughout my career, I’ve always had very simple ambitions of just being a good chef who is well respected amongst his peers and has a successful business.
“I’m really enjoying my current role working under Danni Barry. We worked together in the early stages of our careers and I knew within five minutes of meeting Danni she was going to be a Michelin-starred Chef and therefore knew it was important we become friends rather than enemies.
“It was Danni who suggested I enter NCOTY and without her support I would never have believed I could get this far. This competition has been amazing given the standard of entries and the judges themselves. I’m enjoying every minute of it and really relish the thought of the final!”