Six of the best young chefs in Sussex will compete in a ‘MasterChef’ style cook off at the Amex Stadium on 29 October, to decide who will win the hotly contended Sussex Young Chef of the Year award, sponsored by Sodexo Prestige, as part of the Sussex Food & Drink Awards 2013/14.
The six shortlisted chefs have been selected by public vote and will have to prepare and produce a full three-course menu based on local and seasonal ingredients in only 90 minutes.   Malcolm Emery, Executive Chef and David Mulcahy, Craft & Food Development Director at Sodexo Prestige will be heading up the judging panel and they will be looking for innovation and an appreciation of all things local in the six menus that are created for this final stage in the competition.
Representing East Sussex is Nick Bennet from The Curlew Restaurant in Bodium, Adam Gibbs from The Coach and Horses in Danehill and Perry Foord from Deans Place Hotel in Alfriston; from West Sussex there is Ricky Weston from South Lodge Hotel in Lower Beeding and from Brighton & Hove there is Joseph Otway from the Ginger Pig and James McGarry from L’Église.
Twenty five year old, Nick Bennet from the Curlew Restaurant started his working life as a pot washer and became inspired by the complicated process that cooking requires. Nick is one of the youngest serving Sous Chefs working in a Michelin starred restaurant in the UK and has ambitions to win a Michelin star of his own.  Nick’s manager and owner of The Curlew, Mark Colley, describes Nick as having “boundless energy and enthusiasm for ever evolving menus and shows a level of experience beyond his years.”
Adam Gibbs from the Coach and Horses discovered his love of cooking at the tender age of 14 when he started working in kitchens. The 21 year old has worked at The Coach and Horses for five years and has aspirations to become a well-known chef with his own restaurant one day.  He is a promising young chef with a great determination to succeed, which is matched by his natural creative flair and an affinity with the use of local produce.
Inspired by the cooking of his grandmother, 20 year old Perry Foord from Deans Place Hotel has always known he wanted to pursue a career as a chef.  He would like to work in London one day and wants to produce food to the highest possible standard in order to reach his goal of a Michelin Star. His manager describes Perry as having “a natural ability, extremely hard working, attentive and enthusiastic.  He is always looking to improve and learn, he works very well under pressure and has excellent presentation skills.”
Recognising his creative talents at a young age, 21 year old Ricky Weston quickly became addicted to learning new ways of cooking and presenting food.  Described by his head chef as “incredibly driven, studious and ambitious, Ricky’s greatest strength is his eye for detail and willingness to perfect his skills.”  He has a great understanding of the food seasons and is passionate about using local produce, often creating dishes using fruit and vegetables grown in South Lodge’s walled kitchen garden.
Twenty three year old Joseph Otway from the Ginger Pig has already had some amazing experiences during his career including working in South Africa and he is hungry to perfect the skills of fine dining cuisine.  He is an ambitious young chef who one day aspires to work for a chef who holds multiple Michelin Stars or to hold a star himself.  Joseph is passionate about using quality local ingredients and learning new techniques to perfect the consistency of his cooking.
Twenty five year old James McGarry from L’Église restaurant was inspired to become a chef by his great grandmother who was a fantastic baker and chef.  He loved experimenting with food from a young age so becoming a chef was the perfect way to channel his creative personality. James loves working with quality local ingredients and he has enjoyed working with chefs from all over the world, taking inspiration from them along the way. Head chef and owner of L’Église, Jean Christophe Martin, describes James as “a very talented young chef who has an amazingly creative mind, constantly thinking of new dishes and ideas.”

Other categories in these sought-after awards include best Sussex eating experience, food producer, drink producer, farmer, food/farm shop, butcher and farmers market.   Finalists will be announced in November and the winners and runners up will be revealed at the ‘Sussex foodie event of the year’, the Sussex Food & Drink Awards Banquet, at the Amex Stadium on 30th January 2014, hosted by patron of the awards Sally Gunnell and Danny Pike from BBC Sussex.  Tickets for the superb, seven course Sussex feast and awards ceremony are now on sale. To find out more visit www.sussexfoodawards.biz

Image shows current Sussex Young Chef of the Year, Jimmy Gray from Jeremy’s at Borde Hill