Chef Derek hopes he will be a cut above the rest

A leading Scottish chef is representing the country in the UK’s most prestigious culinary competition.

Derek Johnstone, head chef at Borthwick Castle in Midlothian, is the only Scottish chef to have reached the semi-finals of the prestigious National Chef of the Year contest.

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’s first task, a three-course summer menu.

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 National Chef of the Year competition is the UK’s most prestigious and respected culinary contest. Launched in 1972 and judged by a panel of more than 40 respected chefs from across the industry, previous winners include Gordon Ramsay, Alyn Williams and Mark Sargeant.

Derek said: ‘I’m absolutely delighted to have secured a place in the National Chef of the Year competition. This is such a prestigious contest for chefs working throughout the UK, and I can’t wait to represent Scotland at the semi-finals next month.’

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.

In late 2017, Derek launched an exclusive seasonal Dining Club at Borthwick Castle, developing bespoke, experimental 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.

The winner of the National Chef of the Year competition will be unveiled at The Restaurant Show at Olympia London on 1 October.

For more information about Borthwick Castle, click HERE.

To find out more about the National Chef of the Year competition, visit