Thomas Fallows has been named the winner of the 2013 Coeliac UK's Gluten-free Chef of the Year competition.
The assistant chef at Hindelini's Gourmet Café in Ribblesdale Park, and Professional Cookery Level 2 VRQ student at Accrington and Rossendale College, scooped top prize after an intense cook-off between the six finalists last week. The runners up were Carol Salisbury, chef manager at 1 Call Direct, and Christopher Bridge, head chef at Ravenstone Manor and Charlotte's View restaurant, Keswick.
First prize was a week-long stage under two-Michelin-starred Andrew Fairlie at Gleneagles.
To be in with a chance of winning, the six finalists were asked to cook a three-course bistro style gluten-free meal during the live final, which took place on 19 November at the Unilever Food Solutions Culinary Business Development Centre in Leatherhead. Special praise was given to chefs who demonstrated ability to produce high-quality gluten substitutes, such as from-scratch breads, pastas or batter.
This year's judging panel included Adam Gray from Michelin-starred London restaurant Skylon, Daniel Ayton of 51 Buckingham Gate and Saint James Court Hotel, and Malcolm Emery, executive chef for caterers Sodexo Prestige.
The two judging categories included Gluten-free Chef of the Year for professional chefs, and Up and Coming Gluten-free Chef of the Year for catering students under 23.
The Up and Coming winner was Jonathan Farmer, VRQ Level 2 Professional Cookery student at City College Norwich, with Kathryn Holmes named as the runner-up. Farmer won a week-long stage at Michelin-starred The Pass at South Lodge with chef Matt Gillan.
Both winners also took home a set of knives and a year's membership to the Craft Guild of Chefs and gift vouchers from Sodexo.
Judge Adam Gray said: "To cook in a live final isn't an easy feat so I want to congratulate all of the finalists - the judges certainly enjoyed tasting some exceptional dishes. Hundreds of thousands of people are looking for gluten-free options and the demand for skilled chefs is on the increase."
Coeliac UK chief executive Sarah Sleet said: "People in the UK with coeliac disease represent a potential £100 million market amongst those diagnosed with the condition and the friends and family they eat out with. Some relatively simple changes can make all the difference.
"In addition, there are numerous people in schools, hospitals, prisons and care homes who have no choice of where they can eat so it is essential that those in such establishments also have access to gluten-free food."
Around 1 in 100 people in the UK is said to have the auto-immune condition, whose sufferers cannot eat the gluten protein found in wheat, rye or barley, found in foods such as mainsteam bread, pasta, cereals, cakes and biscuits, as well as some types of sausages, gravies, sauces and soy sauce.