Top chef flies the flag for Scotland in National Chef of the Year comp

Derek Johnstone, head chef at stunning historically restored Borthwick Castle, is the only Scottish chef to have reached the semi-finals of the prestigious contest.

Tuesday, 21st May 2019, 3:11 pm
Chef Derek Johnstone

The Midlothian chef is up against 39 other hopefuls in the UK’s most prestigious culinary competition which launched the career of Gordon Ramsay.

Derek, who joined Borthwick Castle in 2017 following the venue’s two-year restoration, secured his place in the semi-finals with a creative interpretation of the competition’sfirst task, a three-course summer menu - which will remain a secret until the semi-final on June 11.

Competition rules meant the menu had to "be perfectly balanced" and include the ‘Perfect Egg Dish’ starter served hot followed by a beef main course to include two cuts and two cooking methods. The beef had to be sourced from the UK and competitors had to indicate the breed of beef, farm sourced from and maturation period.

Rump of Scottish lamb with wild garlic and barley risotto, confit garlic and charred leeks.

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For dessert, chefs needed to create a delicious chocolate tart incorporating or garnished with seasonal fruits.

The next stage of the contest will see Derek travel to Sheffield to compete in the semi-finals at Sheffield College on Tuesday 11 June.

Derek finished in third place overall at last year’s National Chef of the Year competition, also taking home the Exceptional Presentation Award.

The winner will be announced in October at The Restaurant Show at Olympia London.

Borthwick Castle

Launched in 1972 and judged by a panel of more than 40 respected chefs from across the industry, previous winners include Gordon Ramsay, Alyn Williamsand Mark Sargeant.Derek said he is "absolutely delighted". "I can’t wait to represent Scotland at the semi-finals next month," he added.

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.

He launched an exclusive seasonal Dining Club at Borthwick Castle where guests can relax in the splendour of the private castle while tasting his unique menus paired with fine wines in a venue which is not normally accessible to the public.

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.

Borthwick Castle

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Derek Johnstone's career took off after appearing in Masterchef: The Professionals