Young Chef Young Waiter 2020 opens for entries

The World’s Best Chef and Waiter Competition

The Young Chef Young Waiter competition, which promotes hospitality as a career of choice, a profession and a vocation, returns for 2020 with entries opening from 15 May and the final planned for 17 November. The competition for 2020 will be open to young chefs and waiters under the age of 26 and this year will include those who may be temporarily unable to work or been furloughed from their present roles due to Covid-19.

Established in 1979, the competition was relaunched for 2019 by The Nth Degree Global in partnership with UKHospitality and the Restaurant Association with sponsors including Arla Pro, Magnum, the Cayman Islands and Alpha Rewards. Richard Henderson and Alessandro Calzavacca were awarded Young Chef and Young Waiter of the year respectively in the revamped 2019 live final. As president of the Restaurant Association and founder of The Nth Degree Global, Robert Walton MBE wanted to ensure that young professionals had the opportunity to shine in the world’s best chef and waiter competition during this unprecedented time.

Robert Walton MBE said: “I’m delighted to launch Young Chef Young Waiter for 2020 online as I believe it is the perfect competition at the perfect time. We are living in extraordinary times, when all our restaurants are closed and the industry has paused while this crisis unfolds. I am optimistic by nature and want to do my best to offer hope for the future to all the young workers in the hospitality industry. So many of our talented young chefs and young waiters are at home right now so this is the time when they now need events and activities to keep them inspired, tested and challenged within the hospitality sector. For our Young Chef Young Waiter competition 2020, as the previous year, entries and initial judging will be online. We will be inviting our shortlist to London for a live final in November as long as Britain’s recovery from the pandemic goes to plan but if not, plans are in place to run the whole competition online. Our ambitions for this competition are global and Young Chef Young Waiter in 2019 was a spectacular success last year. We were especially excited to see that our Young Chef winner Richard Henderson had moved to London to work with one of the UK’s most acclaimed British chefs, Tom Aikens plus our young waiter winner Alessandro Calzavacca is now Headwaiter at the Dorchester London. We are excited to be welcoming the next contestants to the competition and give a new generation a fantastic opportunity to excel in the hospitality industry.”

The Young Chef Young Waiter Competition

Entries open online at on 15 May and will close on 1 September 2020 where a short-list of 32 finalists of 16 chefs and 16 waiters will be selected. Entry is free for young chefs and young waiters who are 26 years old or under on 16 November 2020. Entrants can take part if they are currently employed in the role of Chef or Waiter and have been employed for 3 years or more in the hospitality profession (including those who may be temporarily unable to work or been furloughed from their present roles). The winners will take part in a live competition over the 16 and 17 November where finalists will battle it out to impress the high-profile judges where social distancing measures and risk assessments will be in place or alternatively plans have been made to hold this online. Winners will be announced at a sensational evening event on the 17 November at an iconic London venue which was hosted by John Torode last year.


Michelin star chef Theo Randall, proprietor of Theo Randall at the Intercontinental has been once again confirmed as head chef judge alongside hospitality consultant Simon King, previously at The Fat Duck Group and JKS Group, who joins once again as head waiter judge. The digital entries will be judged by leading figures from the hospitality industry.

2019 winners

Young Chef Young Waiter 2019 chef winner Richard Henderson said: “Last year was a brilliant year for me; winning Young Chef Young Waiter really has changed my life. I nearly stopped cooking altogether in 2018 and in just over a year I’ve managed to rekindle my passion, creativity and interest, which inspires me to keep learning, it has felt amazing! This has all been possible because people believed in me when I didn’t. Hywel Jones, who mentored me from 2012, was one of the main people who inspired me to cook again, and from that belief and his encouragement I entered these competitions. Since entering them, I have started to really believe in myself again. After the competition, Tom Aikens contacted me about an opportunity to work in his brand new restaurant in Belgravia. I asked to do a 10 day stage at ‘Muse‘, which I found an incredible experience, so incredible in fact I’ve now moved to London to work full time with Tom.”

Alessandro Calzavacca, winner of the Waiter category, 2019 from the Dorchester London, said: “Winning Young Waiter of the Year at the competition is a dream come true. I have made so many new friends and connections during this adventure which I didn’t expect. I’m really grateful for the support from Simon King and all the judges in this competition as they have taught me so many new things. I can’t believe we get to experience mentoring calls with chef Thomas Keller and also to travel to California, which is sure to be the trip of a lifetime.”

Head chef judge Theo Randall said: “The results last year were phenomenal and our Young Chef winner, Richard Henderson, was a fantastic character and had a really calm persona in the kitchen. He cooked really well under stress and his final dishes were absolutely flawless. We are all amazed by his personality and think he is going to go a long way in the industry.”

Our head waiter judge Simon King comments: “For me being the head judge for YCYW is very special, it’s a completion of my journey as I was fortunate enough to win the competition in 2000. I still remember how it felt, who I competed with and the what I learnt about myself. Our Young Waiter winner from last year, Alessandro Calzavacca, is a credit to the competition. He is clearly very passionate, unbelievably composed and his attention to detail across all our tasks was noted by all our judges. We think he has a very bright future ahead of him in hospitality.”

History of Young Chef Young Waiter
Young Chef Young Waiter of the Year, in association with UKHospitality and the Restaurant Association, has been honouring the best young chefs and waiters since 1979. Now in its 41st year, Young Chef Young Waiter continues to highlight the remarkable skills of the finest young professionals building their careers in the industry.

Many past winners have gone on to achieve huge success in hospitality and YCYW proudly supports the future stars in Britain’s kitchens and restaurants. Winners and judges have included some the industry’s great recognisable names to include – Mark Sargeant, Marcus Wareing, Simon King, John Torode, Annie and Germain Schwab, Jeremy King, Raymond Blanc OBE, Heston Blumenthal OBE, The Earl of Bradford, Lord Forte, Angela Hartnett MBE, Simon Girling and Fred Sirieix.

 Key dates:
15 May 2020 – Young Chef Young Waiter launches
15 September 2020 – Entries close
13 October 2020 – Shortlist announced
16/17 November 2020 – Two-day event in London with finalists (subject to Government guidelines)
17 November 2020 – Winners announced at YCYW party (subject to Government guidelines)

Enter here:

12th October 2020

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