The Swedish Championship in professional cooking
Chef of the Year is the Swedish championship in professional cooking. It’s Sweden’s premier and most prestigious competition for professional chefs. We aim to make gastronomy part of the agenda in Swedish society.
Chef of the Year was launched in 1983 with the support of, among others, the renowned chef and restaurateur Tore Wretman. The aim was to make the chef profession a more attractive career choice and to contribute to raising the overall interest in cooking.
The initiative for the competition came from the Swedish Academy of Gastronomy and the trade organisation of Swedish dairy producers, Svensk Mjölk. Their vision for the competition was to enhance the status of chefs and the reputation of the Swedish cuisine. Today Chef of the Year is organized by Årets Kock AB in collaboration with Arla Foods, Spendrups and with other commercial partners and sponsors.
Chef of the Year has fostered some of Sweden’s most successful chefs. The interest in the Swedish food scene is growing both in Sweden and internationally. When the competition started there where only a handful of top class restaurants in Sweden and very little interest internationally. Today Sweden has a growing number of one and two Michelin star restaurants, is a driving force in the Nordic cuisine and is generating interest as a culinary nation from all over the world.
Chef of the Year is a competition for chefs, organized by Årets Kock AB. Swedish chefs can apply, no matter where in the world they are working at the time.
The final of Chef of the Year is when the winner becomes the Swedish champion in professional cooking. The final of the competition has been aired on Swedish television, Sjuan and TV4 Play, the last years. The final is also an event and a meeting place for professionals in the restaurant and food business. It’s an event where chefs, producers and politicians can meet. Students and teachers from restaurant and cooking schools from all over Sweden visit the competition to learn and get inspired. On the days of the final there can be as many as 4000 spectators present to support their favourite finalist.
The jury consists of some of Swedens’s top chefs and even internationally renowned chefs are invited to judge. For example: Elena Arzak from Arzak in San Sebastián, Rene Redzepi from Noma in Copenhagen and Clare Smyth from Restaurant Gordon Ramsay have both been guest judges. Chairman of the jury is chef Viktor Westerlind, who won Chef of the Year, back in 2009. Karin Fransson of Restaurant Borgholm, has been a part of the jury for many years and she emphasizes how important it is for the members of the jury to be well prepared, almost as important as for the competitors.
The Karin Fransson Award
Karin Fransson is also the patron of an honorary prize in her name. The prize is given to a chef who has mentored, supported and helped female chefs to grow within their field. The restaurant business is still experiencing a shortage of women in the industry which is something Chef of the Year aims to change.