Six aim to wow judges in competition to find the top chef

The EDP Norfolk Food & Drink Awards Chef of the Year competition at City College Norwich. Blind-tast

The EDP Norfolk Food & Drink Awards Chef of the Year competition at City College Norwich. Blind-tasting judges, from left, Chris Mann, Richard Hughes, and Charlie Hodson. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2016

Six local chefs battled it out in a live cook-off held at the Hotel School at City College Norwich, this year's sponsor for the Chef of the Year competition.

Each competitor designed a three-course menu for a special occasion to be held in the county, using seasonal and local ingredients. Two panels of judges sampled and reviewed the dishes.

One set of judges did a blind tasting, and the other group assessed the dishes based on criteria including authenticity, skills in the kitchen, wastage and balance of menu.

'In the finished plate you really see where the chefs' passion and creativity come into play,' said Steve Thorpe, judge and head of the Hotel School.

Joe Mulhall, another judge – also of the Hotel School – said: 'You're looking for a skill. There's a difference between cooking food and assembling food. It's all about the eating: the colours, the flavours, the taste. There's sometimes quite a difference between what we see in the kitchen and how the dish turns out.'

One judge on the blind-tasting panel said it was hard to know who would be named 2016 Chef of the Year at the EDP awards event on September 12.

Richard Hughes, chef/proprietor at The Lavender House Restaurant & Cookery School, said: 'This year was different from past years because there was no clear winner. Usually you get one or two standouts but this year I can't say – it's a good overall standard.

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'This is a very difficult competition because what you're trying to do is impress people. The winner from last year, Chris Mann [head chef at Titchwell Manor], knows about food, wasn't trying to impress us, and it bowled us over.'