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County’s greatest culinary talents battle it out for Norfolk Chef of the Year title

PUBLISHED: 17:48 07 August 2018 | UPDATED: 19:38 07 August 2018

Judges, from left, Joe Mulhall, Martin Colley, and Steve Thorpe, at the Chef of the Year competition for the Food and Drink Awards 2018. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Judges, from left, Joe Mulhall, Martin Colley, and Steve Thorpe, at the Chef of the Year competition for the Food and Drink Awards 2018. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Copyright: Archant 2018

This year’s hopefuls vying for the title of Norfolk Chef of the Year have now done all they can, having served up three meticulous dishes in the tasting heats.

The eight finalists took to the kitchens at City College Norwich (CCN) to concoct a starter and a main course from their proposed menus, whilst their dessert option was left in the hands of the judges.

The six judges asked the talents from across Norfolk to make a floating island, a French dish of meringue floating on creme anglaise.

Joe Mulhall is the head of hospitality at CCN, and as a former lecturer taught many of the contestants.

He said: “As usual it’s been a real pleasure to be involved with the Chef of the Year competition. It’s been no surprise with the calibre of the contestants that the quality has been so high this year, and it’s fantastic that more than 80pc of the contestants have come through this college.”

Chefs from left, Charlie Wilson, Chris Avey, Daniel Freear, and Jeremy Park, taking part in the Chef of the Year competition for the Food and Drink Awards 2018. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYChefs from left, Charlie Wilson, Chris Avey, Daniel Freear, and Jeremy Park, taking part in the Chef of the Year competition for the Food and Drink Awards 2018. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

The contestants this year have ranged in terms of age and culinary specialism.

Chris Avey is the oldest finalist at the age of 52, and specialises in vegan cooking. He said: “It’d be great to win an accolade like this for the recognition.

“I was the only vegan cook and I think veganism is a trend at the moment because it’s so much more accessible to the public. I take a lot of my inspiration from Asian cuisine, and I think my dishes went well today.”

Jeremy Park, 44, has entered the competition before. The Season and Seafood grill chef said: “For me the winning isn’t about the gain for me. I do a lot of work with younger people who I mentor through competitions like this, as well as schools, and I think the recognition would inspire them.”

Chef Trevor Clarke, from the Dukes Head Hotel, at work during the Chef of the Year competition for the Food and Drink Awards 2018. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYChef Trevor Clarke, from the Dukes Head Hotel, at work during the Chef of the Year competition for the Food and Drink Awards 2018. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

The eight contestants will be narrowed down to three finalists in the next few days, before the winner is announced on August 10 at the Norfolk Food and Drink Awards.

Steve Thorpe is the assistant principle at CCN, and said: “Usually there’s one clear winner, or it’s a choice between two. This year the calibre has been so high that it’s very close.”

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