Photo gallery: Launch of North Norfolk Food and Drink Festival sees young chefs compete

A food festival celebrating north Norfolk produce was launched this weekend with a new competition aiming to show off the area's up-and-coming chefs.

The North Norfolk Food and Drink Festival staged its inaugural event at Holkham Hall's stunning courtyard in 2010 and will return there this September.

Speaking at the launch event at Creake Abbey Farmers' Market, North Creake, on Saturday chairman Teddy Maufe, said organisers were aiming to make it even better this year.

The owner of the Real Ale Shop said: 'It was a great success, way beyond our wildest dreams. Last year we had 40 stalls in the courtyard and this year we're aiming for 60. This area has a wealth of food and drink. It's only right it has, at last, a proper festival to celebrate it.'

One key addition to the 2011 festival will be the Local Food Champion Challenge which will pit up-and-coming Norfolk chefs against each other.

On Saturday the Creake Abbey Farmers' Market hosted the first of four heats which will be staged there over the next four months. The final will take place during the festival weekend on September 4 and 5.

Norfolk food expert Mary Kemp, who will host the heats, said each time two chefs would create two dishes each in an hour using local produce: 'We wanted to start a competition where you got to know these young chefs and got to know what they know and how they do it.'

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The first heat saw Steven Bird, from Strattons Hotel at Swaffham, compete against Max Emmerson from The Hunny Bell at Hunworth.

Among the judges was Norfolk's Masterchef finalist Tim Kinnaird, who will return to judge the final. He said he would be looking for 'a bit of shine and potential' and added: 'They don't have to be the finished article, but I want someone who understands Norfolk food and what's in season, and someone who's not going to muck about with it too much.'

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