The Mariner’s Rock, Cornwall, head chef will guide twelve contestants on their culinary journeys alongside American chef Nyesha Arrington on the ITV show that will broadcast next week.
Ainsworth said: “I am so excited to be part of Next Level Chef which sees twelve home cooks, chefs and social media cooking enthusiasts battling it out in a number of gruelling and high intensity challenges.”
He said the programme would test their skills and aptitude in three different kitchens (floors) where they’d learn to cook in contrasting environments using creativity and expertise.
To share the stage with long-term friend and role model Gordon Ramsay was an “absolute honour”, Ainsworth continued, who he has respected since they were together in 2000.
Eyes on the prize
Viewers can tune in to the first instalment of the eight-part series on ITV1 next Wednesday (11 January) at 9pm.
The programme, which aired in the US on Fox in January 2022 will see contestants divided not three teams lead by the guidance of the mentors.
Chefs are eliminated as the show develops, with the winner receiving £100,000 alongside a one-year mentorship under all three mentors.
Each episode places the teams at random levels of a staggered kitchen. Chefs on the top tier have use of a well-equipped, state-of-the-art kitchen, those in the middle have access to a standard commercial kitchen and those on the base level are handed a limited collection of lower-quality equipment.
A challenge takes place on each episode where a platform stock with all the ingredients is lowered through the structure from top to bottom.
The teams have 30 seconds to gather whichever items they think they need, and those on the bottom are, therefore, left with the least choice.
Causing a stir
Some episodes see disbandment of the teams, leaving chefs to compete directly against one another, while the finale introduces a cooking time limit of 90 minutes per level to whip up three dishes.
Ainsworth said: “I can’t wait to show what we have been working on for the last year and to support but challenge our amazing contestants through the show.
“The Next Level Chef winning prize will be life changing for whichever deserving chef makes it through and it’s a privilege to be playing a part in that.”
Ainsworth is the founder of The Ainsworth Group which is made up of North Cornwall sites Paul Ainsworth at No6, Caffè Rojano, the Mariners Public House, and Padstow Townhouse.