Final of the Local Food Challenge at this weekend’s North Norfolk Food and Drink Festival

Two young chefs will be showcasing their skills and imagination in front of a live audience this weekend as they take part in the final of the Local Food Challenge at the North Norfolk Food and Drink Festival.

Cooking up a mouth-watering meal while addressing an audience of keen food lovers would be a daunting experience for even some of the most seasoned professional chefs.

So for the young contenders appearing at this weekend's North Norfolk Food and Drink Festival, it is likely to be one of the toughest tests they have encountered so far in their fledgling careers.

But this Sunday, two of Norfolk most promising chefs will be hoping their love of Norfolk's produce shines through as they compete to be crowned Local Food Challenge champion.

For the second year, the north Norfolk festival is set to host the finale of the competition which aims to uncover chefs who know about and can make the most the food and drink found on their doorsteps.

Last year saw Ben Hughes, from The White Horse at Overstrand, take the title after impressing both the competition judges as well as the live audience at the popular cookery theatre.

Over the last four months, four heats have been held at Creake Abbey Farmers' Market featuring eight young chefs from across the county hoping to emulate Ben's success.

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Andrew Chapman, from Strattons Hotel in Swaffham; Craig Wadsworth, of The Hunny Bell; James Falconer, from The Sea Marge; Stuart Hall, from Titchwell Manor; Christopher Abbott, from The Victoria at Holkham; and Tom Clarke from The Duck Inn at Stanhoe, all put up a good fight during the early rounds.

But the two chefs with the highest scores were Miles Thwaites, from Morston Hall, and Oliver Boddy, from Briarfields, at Titchwell, who will be battling it out in the final.

Food writer Mary Kemp, who has organised the cook-off alongside Creake Abbey owner Diana Brocklebank Scott, said she was impressed with how well all eight chefs took to performing in front of a crowd.

'For some of them, it's been the first time they have cooked in public.

'All of them have managed to cook and chat, which really is an art in itself. It's been extraordinary.'

The judges found it difficult to pick between the chefs who all cooked to a very high standard and expertly dealt with questions from both Mary and members of the audience.

'The two finalists were two or three marks ahead of everyone else,' said Mary.

'They were awarded those extra marks because they had a bit more confidence in what they were doing.'

On Sunday, the chefs will each have 40 minutes to prepare two courses in front of an audience in the octagonal cookery theatre at the North Norfolk Food and Drink Festival.

Judges will be looking for dishes that taste good but also a knowledge and understanding of the local ingredients used.

'The provenance of the ingredients will be part of the judging process,' said Mary. 'We will be asking who provided it, where it came from, why they're using it.'

The Local Food Challenge final takes place at 12.30pm and 1.30pm on Sunday at the Holkham Hall courtyard.

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