Six of the best young chefs in Sussex took part in a sizzling cook off at City College Brighton & Hove to win the hotly contended Sussex Young Chef of the Year award, sponsored by Cheese Please and Gram UK Ltd, as part of the Sussex Food & Drink Awards 2012/13.
They were Charlie Tayler from The Pass at South Lodge Hotel in Lower Beeding, Paul Peach from The Horseguards Inn in Tillington, Jimmy Gray from Jeremy’s Restaurant at Borde Hill Gardens near Haywards Heath, Steve Pelling from The Felbridge Hotel in East Grinstead, Ryan Hunter from Wingrove House in Alfriston and Tom Goodchild from The Crabtree in Lower Beeding.
Each young chef was asked to prepare a three course meal made from locally sourced Sussex produce to be judged by an expert panel including Roy Perrett from the Craft Guild of Chefs, Leroy Clarke, Chef Lecturer and Course Manager at City College’s catering department, sponsors Fiona Kay of Cheese Please and Glenn Roberts of Gram UK Ltd and chair of judges, Clive Beddall OBE.
The young chefs were judged not only on the sourcing of ingredients but also on the taste, presentation, creativity, saleability and customer appeal of their menus and after much deliberation on the part of the judging panel the three finalists were agreed as follows:
Twenty-year old Charlie Tayler from South Lodge in Upper Beeding near Horsham, works as demi chef de partie in The Pass restaurant at the hotel.  His starter of scallops and butternut squash was followed by wood pigeon, finishing off with a blackberry cheesecake of outstandingly high standard which was singled out for particular praise by the judges.
 
Twenty-four-year-old Jimmy Gray from Jeremy’s Restaurant at Borde Hill Gardens near Haywards Heath produced a menu which was judged to be exceptionally creative.  The presentation of his butter poached lobster to start was excellent and was followed up by a main course of Sussex mallard, the ingredients for which were all produced within a five mile radius of Borde Hill.  The finale to his menu was a poached pear and Slipcote cheese mousse.
Twenty-year-old Ryan Hunteris the youngest of the three finalists and was delighted to be back cooking at City College Brighton & Hove where he did his training.  Now working as part of the team at Wingrove House in Alfriston, he produced a sea bass starter, freshly caught on the morning of the competition, followed by downland rabbit of exceptional taste and finishing off with a rice pudding complemented with a plum, apple and blackberry compote.
Roy Perrett, Vice President of the Craft Guild of Chefs who lives in Sussex said, “The six young chefs all produced menus of an amazing standard and selecting just three finalists was challenging with a display of such exceptional culinary skills.  It was a very exciting and highly competitive afternoon from which I have come away with the names and addresses of six fantastic Sussex eateries.”
Said Leroy Clarke, Chef Lecturer and Course Manager at City College’s Catering department, “When we have young chefs as talented as today’s competitors working in our restaurants and hotels, the hospitality and catering industry in Sussex has a great future and can only go from strength to strength.”
Other categories in these coveted awards include best Sussex eating experience, food producer, drink producer, farmer, food/farm shop, butcher and farmers market.  Winners and runners up will be revealed at the ‘Sussex foodie event of the year’, the awards banquet, being held at the Amex Stadium on 31st January 2013, hosted by Sally Gunnell OBE adn Danny Pike from BBC Sussex.  Tickets for the sumptuous seven-course Sussex feast and awards ceremony are now on sale.
To find out more visit www.sussexfoodawards.biz