A talented and ambitious local chef has reached the semi-finals of the National Chef of the Year competition after creating a stunning three course menu which impressed Michelin-starred chef, Kenny Atkinson, who leads the judging panel.

Dion Wyn-Jones, Executive Head Chef at Rookery Hall Hotel is one of 40 chefs still in the running to take the most sought-after title in the British culinary scene. 

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the competition and the judges are looking for the next person to follow in the footsteps of recent champions Thomas Swaby, Nick Smith and Steve Groves. National Chef of the Year was first run in 1972 and winners in the last fifty years have also included Gordon Ramsay, Simon Hulstone and Alyn Williams. 

Now in a bid to take one of the top ten spots, Dion must create a short video, to present an amuse bouche style signature dish that reflects his own favourite style of cooking or cuisine. The videos should explain what the dish is, why it is important to the chef and how it links to the theme.  

Chefs will also answer some questions posed by chair of judges, Kenny Atkinson who wants to know more about their original entry and what winning would mean to them. Once all the entries have been received a new panel of judges will whittle them down to ten finalists to compete in the cook-off at Le Cordon Bleu in September.

Dion Wyn-Jones commented: “I am so happy to get to the semi-final stage. This is a really competitive group with some outstanding chefs from around the country, so to be in their company is an achievement in itself. Hopefully I’ll get to the final, it would be a real career highlight.

The winner will not only receive the most sought-after chef title in the UK, but they will take home a host of impressive prizes including culinary experiences, equipment and trips of a lifetime. 

About Rookery Hall Hotel & Spa and Hand Picked Hotels

Rookery Hall Hotel & Spa is part of Hand Picked Hotels, a family-owned collection of country house hotels and spa resorts in the UK and the Channel Islands. Hand Picked Hotels was founded in 2001 by owner, Chairman and CEO, Julia Hands MBE.  Julia’s love of historical buildings, the English countryside, local food, and good wine inspired her dream to own a collection of hotels that would celebrate these passions and invites others to share in them.

It was important to Julia from the outset that guests could feel at home at Hand Picked, whether it was for a romantic escape, a corporate retreat, a magical wedding celebration or a chance to simply enjoy some rest and relaxation.  Each hotel is individual yet united by Hand Picked's values of family, community, initiative and individuality and offers an abundance of character and charm in locations inviting plenty to see, do and explore.

Rookery Hall is a historic building dating back to 1817 and features 69 stylish bedrooms and a relaxing spa and private health club. Their 2 AA Rosette restaurant serves seasonal modern British food in a relaxing environment overlooking the hotel's stunning gardens and views of the surrounding countryside.