People across the UK are being invited to compete for the title of Great British Virtual Chef of the Year in a cooking competition designed to spread cheer this Christmas.

After a tough year which saw COVID-19 completely shut down some areas in the world, bars, restaurants, hotels and holiday destinations have been off the menu and people have been forced to entertain themselves in their own homes.

The Great British Virtual Cook-off aims to celebrate the efforts of those across the nation who used this time to advance their culinary skills, or home-cook for the first time.

Hosted by ethical brands Yorkshire Lean Meat and Wines 2U, the competition will go live on 14th December 2020 via Wines 2U’s website, where a free recipe card will be available to download.

A special ‘how-to-cook video’ by head chef tutor of The Cookery School at The Grand York, Andrew Dixon will also be broadcast live on Facebook on December 23 at 6.30pm.

This will allow families who aren’t able to gather under the Christmas household mixing rules to compete virtually and celebrate in a fun and luxurious way.

Entrants will be asked to prepare either a Ragu Beef Bolognese and homemade pasta or, as a vegetarian option, Stuffed Aubergine and Ratatouille.

When the meal is plated up and ready to serve, entrants must take a photograph and email or text their entry along with a paragraph explaining who their dream dinner date would be and why.

Three prizes including a luxury home wine and dine experience box as first prize, six bottles of fine wine as second prize, and one bottle of fine wine as third prize, will be awarded to the top three entries submitted before midnight on 28th December.

David Krushell, director and founder of Wines 2U, said: “2020 has been a year where people have had to deal with a complete change in their lifestyles, and bars and restaurants have been off the menu.

“We’ve noticed that a lot more people have started cooking at home – and have found a new talent – all because they haven’t been able to go out, so we wanted to do something which would unite people and also celebrate their cooking efforts over the year.

“Even though the new rules state we can mix over Christmas, for some this won’t be possible and sadly, Christmas is going to be very different for us all.

“Families who are apart and won’t be meeting up can take part virtually and watch the Facebook session together while they cook - and it beats squabbling over Monopoly!”

Creating exclusive fine wine and dine experiences every month for its members, Wines 2U is an ethical supplier of wine which ensures those with a palette for luxury can continue to enjoy good food and drink in a socially responsible and ethical way.

Through a monthly subscription model, its members benefit from a bottle of fine wine not available anywhere else on the market, and up to 30% off additional wines from the online shop.

To really recreate that fine wine and dine experience, members also receive recipe cards for easy to cook yet tasty meat or vegetarian meals, matched perfectly with the wine of the month.

Last week, Wines 2u announced their partnership with award-winning firm Yorkshire Lean Meat to deliver sustainably sourced produce to homes across the UK, providing diners with ethical restaurant quality meals in their own home.

The partnership enables food and drink lovers across the UK to order wine and dine boxes comprising hand-butchered, traceable and locally reared meat along with fresh vegetables and other produce, complemented by a specially chosen wine.

Ian Roberton, managing director of Yorkshire Lean Meat, said: “Fine dining at home is perfectly possible with the right ingredients and a little help, and the Great British Virtual Cook-off will even be a great opportunity for those who fancy cooking for the first time to have a go.

“We hope the competition will inspire people to come together virtually and cook while having some fun and some great food at the same time.”

The judging will take place during a Facebook Live on December 29 at 7pm when the winners will be announced.

For more details about the competition and how to enter go Competition — Wines 2U.