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Chef of the Year competition ups in size and prizes
It’s time for innovative chefs to prepare to pit their skills against each other in the renowned Unilever Food Solutions Chef of the Year competition – which this year features five categories with three prizes in each, representing a total of R110 000 in cash prizes.
Unilever Food Solutions has introduced two brand new categories to its three traditional categories of Junior Chef of the Year, Senior Chef of the Year, and Team of Four: these are Creative Canapés and Confectionary Showcase, where chefs will be judged on criteria that includes most indulgent; best innovative presentation; best use of UFS ingredients; and best representation of theme.
The entry criteria for the categories include:
o   Junior Chef of the Year – less than five years’ professional culinary experience; three course meal entry using Unilever Food Solutions products.
o   Senior Chef of the Year – more than five years’ professional culinary experience; three course meal entry using Unilever Food Solutions products.
o   Team of Four– open to restaurants and canteens; no qualifications required, but must be cooks; three course meal entry using Unilever Food Solutions products; themed table décor.
o   Creative Canapés– more than five years’ professional culinary experience; hot and cold canapés.
o   Confectionary Showcase– more than five years’ professional culinary experience; focus on cakes and cake decorating.
To enter the competition, participants in the Junior and Senior Chef of the Year categories and the Team of Four category are required to create recipes using Unilever Food Solutions products and submit their recipes for a starter, main course and dessert with accompanying photographs. For the remaining two categories, chefs are required to submit their recipes for the respective items.
From the entries, candidates will be selected for the three semi-final mystery basket cook-offs, which will be held for three of the five categories – in Durban on 31 July, in Johannesburg on 1 August, and in Cape Town on 3 August. There will be no regional cook-off for the Creative Canapés and Confectionary Showcase categories. Selected entrants for these two categories will be judged at the competition finals, which will be held in Johannesburg on 14 September.
Some of South Africa's most esteemed chefs who have a wealth of experience behind them will be on hand to help judge the entrants in the bid to find the chefs and cooks worthy of the titles and excellent cash prizes. The most coveted title – Chef of the Year – goes to the person who wins the Senior Chef of the Year category.
Each category of the competition will take the form of a mystery basket competition, in which contestants will be required to showcase their skill and creativity using some of Unilever Food Solutions’ ingredients. The entrants will have half an hour to design their menu, and then three hours to prepare a starter, main course and dessert.
Unilever Food Solutions, which has been hosting this competition since the early 1970s, has long been committed to contributing richly to the growth and development of innovative ways of producing masterpieces in kitchens around the country. This competition, says Craig Elliott, Executive Head Chef of Unilever Food Solutions for South Africa, the Middle East and Pakistan, is about that. “For us, it’s about pushing the boundaries of creativity, imagination and skill; about uniting behind our talented chefs and going to great lengths to provide them with solutions and inspiration for use in their own kitchens every day.”
Elliot acknowledges the tremendous contribution that chefs play in our lives by sharing their talent, skills and inspiration with us through the passion they put into their dishes. South Africa has a wealth of world-class chefs. This competition pays tribute to them by offering them a platform from which to showcase their talent in a bid to achieving the respected title of Chef of the Year. “It has been exceptionally gratifying to Unilever Food Solutions to see the positive enthusiasm displayed by chefs when creating recipes with our range of ingredients,” he comments. “This response continuously spurs us on to greater heights in developing products that help to create great-tasting dishes as well as adding convenience to our chefs’ lives in their professional kitchens.”
Unilever Food Solutions is also proud of the fact that for the past three years, the competition has attracted chefs from Egypt, Dubai and Pakistan at the cook-offs – as part of the South Africa, Middle East, and Pakistan cluster within Unilever Food Solutions. “This is encouraging on two levels,” says Elliot, “it shows how widely-recognised and valued this competition is, while also demonstrating just how well our South African chefs can hold their own on the global culinary stage.”
To enter the competition, chefs are invited to complete their entry forms on the new easy to use online registration that is functional from 2 May to 24 July at


Click here for the Entry Form.