Chris Rawlinson, chef/owner of North West restaurant Red Cat has finally claimed victory in the North West Young Chef of the Year competition after seven years of entering.
Rawlinson, 23, beat four other finalists at a cook-off at Manchester College on Tuesday to win the title and a host of prizes, including a luxury holiday for two, a two-week stage at a top restaurant, a year`s free membership of the Craft Guild of Chefs and a set of Global chefs` knives.
The winner, who grew up in Chorley, Lancashire, and now runs his own restaurant in nearby Whittle-Le-Woods, said: “I may run my own restaurant and have been on a few stages at other restaurants, but to win North West young Chef of the Year is something else, really wonderful.”
“It gives young chefs who might work under the radar the chance to stand up and say, ‘I’m a chef in my own right’, giving you the confidence to make your mark. There’s a 14-year-old I’d like to take on at the moment who’s got a certain something, and hopefully I can inspire him to make his mark too.”
Finalists in the competition, sponsored by Essential Cuisine, were asked to cook a three-course meal for two using produce from the North West costing no more than £25.
Rawlinson impressed judges with a starter of West Coast scallops, new season beetroot, Formby asparagus, watercress and parmesan tuille, main of rack of Lonk lamb, spring cabbage, peas and carrots, rosemary puree and fondant potato, followed by milk chocolate and pistachio mousse, coffee pannacotta, sugar tuille, nutmeg butter and marmalade for dessert.
Judges were chef Brian Mellor, John Benson-Smith of North West Hospitality, Ramsay Scholarship chairman Steven Doherty, Nigel Crane of Essential Cuisine and Restaurant magazine`s features editor Stefan Chomka.
North West Young Chef of the Year 2009 finalists:
• Greater Manchester - Adam Smith, 25, sous chef at Abode, Manchester
Final dishes: Slow confit smoked salmon with watercress puree and radish a la grec, Best-end of Spring Herdwick lamb with pomme boulangere, fennel puree and lamb tapenade jus, and strawberry creme brulee with marinated strawberries, basil coulis and fromage frais sorbet
• Lancashire – Stephen Smith, 22, chef de partie at Farington Lodge Hotel, Farington
Final dishes: Breast of wood pigeon with yellow carrot puree, forest mushrooms, baby beetroot, raspberry caviar and light walnut foam, pan fried fillet of turbot with young veg, fondant potato, shellfish, saffron and chorizo broth, and assiette of desserts: pink Champagne jelly, rosewater bavarois and strawberry and vanilla semi-fredo
• Merseyside – Tom Lee, 23, junior sous chef at London Carriage Works, Liverpool
Final dishes: Steam fillet of Liverpool Bay wild seabass with herb crust, linguine pasta and Peter Jones’ cherry tomato essence, plate of Callum Edge’s Black Faced Suffolk lamb including cutlet, sweetbread and braised cheeks with Claremont asparagus, broccoli puree and natural jus, and dark chocolate and Claremont Farm strawberry torte with Vineyard Farm honeycomb cream
• Cumbria – Martin Frickel, aged 19, chef de partie at L’Enclume, Cartmel
Final dishes: Warm millom crab terrine, Woodhall’s ham, baked potato and lovage, Herdwick lamb rump with broad beans, young onions and hyssop, and cheesecake, rhubarb, sweet cicely and cassia
NW Young Chef of the Year competition saved