FORAGING FAN BEATS PRESSURE TO WIN NORTH WEST YOUNG CHEF

FORAGING FAN BEATS PRESSURE TO WIN NORTH WEST YOUNG CHEF
North West Young Chef of the Year

North West Young Chef of the Year

Premium Supplier 9th June 2011

FORAGING FAN BEATS PRESSURE TO WIN NORTH WEST YOUNG CHEF

A fan of foraging from a farming family has won this year's Essential Cuisine-sponsored North West Young Chef competition, with help from his mum's 25-year-old pressure cooker.
Andrew Postlethwaite, chef de partie at the Castle Green Hotel, Kendal, was presented with the award following a cook-off at Manchester College's Fielden Campus, Didsbury, yesterday.
"I was really, really happy to be runner-up last year, but to actually win is amazing," said the 21-year-old, who lives on his parents' farm in Lambrigg, near Kendal. I did a few things different this year, which I think gave me an edge. Instead of using water bass, for instance, which doesn't involve much skill to prepare, I went for lobster, which is harder to get right.
"I also used some classic techniques with a modern twist this year, like digging out my mum's pressure cooker - a wedding present from 25 years ago – from the cupboard to braise my lamb cheeks, which reduced the cooking time and sealed in the flavour and goodness really well. This amused the judges just a bit."
Representing Cumbria against talented young chefs from Merseyside, Greater Manchester, Cheshire and Lancashire, Andrew, who trained at Kendal College, was tasked with cooking up an award-winning three course meal for two using North West produce costing up to £25.
Sourcing wild or home-grown ingredients, where possible, his menu comprised Muncaster lobster, seashore herbs, Pink Fir potatoes, cockles and radish, followed by rump of home reared mutton, lamb cheeks, sweetbreads, Collie Wobbles ale, asparagus, goats curd, cauliflower and ramsons, and summer berries, sheep's milk ice-cream, elderflower and wood sorrel.
The wood sorrel and wild garlic was picked in the woods surrounding Castle Green Hotel, while everything from strawberries, blueberries, elderflower and gooseberries to radishes and chives came from either his parents' farm or his nan's garden. He also went rooting for sea herbs in the Lake District, from sea aster to purslane and samphire.
"One of dad's hobbies is making jam, so I thought, I'll have a bit of that," he said. "I also enjoy foraging, but you do have to know what you are picking. I'm lucky enough to have woods where I work, but I did have to be shown what can and can't be used. For this menu, I wanted my ingredients to be as natural as possible, not to do too much to them."
As well as the critical acclaim North West Young Chef brings, Andrew is now looking forward to a two week stage at a top European restaurant, with a year's Craft Guild of Chefs membership and a set of professional Chroma chefs' knives to help him progress in his field.
Although he isn't clear what he wants to do long term, Andrew firmly has his sights set on winning National Young Chef of the Year at The Restaurant Show, which he automatically qualified for by winning North West Young Chef. He has also won a place in the final of Visionary Dining Chef of the Year, where he will go up against head and executive chefs.
Inspired by Castle Green Hotel head chef and ambassador for local produce Justin Wood, Andrew said this year's North West Young Chef final was more of a challenge than ever. "It sounds a cliché, but the standard was even higher than last year," he said. "The atmosphere was friendly and everyone wished each other luck, but we all desperately wanted to win."
This year's judging panel again comprised Brian Mellor, competition organiser and British Masterchef, Steven Doherty, chairman of the Gordon Ramsay Scholarship, and Nigel Crane, Dorchester-trained chef and managing director of Cheshire-based sponsor Essential Cuisine.
Joining the panel for the first time was Lisa Allen, head chef at Northcote Manor in the Lake District and a winner on BBC Two's Great British Menu 2010, and Thom Hetherington, managing director of Holden Media, which organises Northern-based exhibitions.
Judge Nigel Crane said Andrew was extremely creative in his approach and abided by the golden rules of great cooking. "He confidently demonstrated a host of skills and some classic approaches, but, most importantly, kept it hot, simple, local and in season," he said.
"Andrew is a down to Earth, talented chef who clearly enjoyed the challenge of sourcing ingredients on home turf, and could quite easily step into the role of executive chef at a restaurant if he wanted to. He deserves to go on to great things and we wish him the best."
Chairman of judges and British Masterchef Brian Mellor said: "North West Young Chef is fast becoming the competition to enter if you want to get your name known in the industry, as well as train with some of the best chefs in Europe. We saw some ingenious ideas put into practice at this year's final and Andrew, in particular, is definitely one to watch."
Eighteen-year-old Danielle Heron from Manchester College, a second year catering student and trainee chef at Ramson of Ramsbottom, Bury, was hailed this year's runner-up.
North West Young Chef sponsors were Lakes Hospitality Association, Oliver Harvey, The Staff Canteen, Chroma Knives, Craft Guild of Chefs, Frederic Robinsons, Villeroy & Boch and Visit Chester and Cheshire.
If you would like to know more about North West Young Chef, call 01606 541490. There is also a Facebook page (North West Young Chef Competition) and you can follow events on Twitter (@NWYoungChefComp).