A teenage chef who painstakingly grew his own peas and made his own elderflower cordial for this year's Essential Cuisine-sponsored North West Young Chef final has won the title.
Daniel Akrigg, commis chef at Rogan and Company restaurant near Grange Over Sands, was a force to be reckoned with at yesterday's high octane cook-off at Manchester College.
The 18-year-old first bowled over judges with a flavourful starter of asparagus and poached egg with brown butter hollandaise, blanching the asparagus in a homemade veg nage.
The young chef then sealed the deal with a local cheese cake with granola, raspberries and elderflower, the cheese sourced from Holker Farm Dairy near Daniel's place of work.
The teenager, who is half way through his level 3 NVQ Patisserie at Kendal College, dressed the raspberries with elderflower gin liqueur before finishing the dish with the granola.
Chairman of judges and British Master Chef Brian Mellor, who founded the competition for chefs under 23, said: "It was a closely contested final, but Daniel worked quickly and with focus, and was controlled at all times to produce balanced and well flavoured dishes.
Winner with Judges"As the judges spoke to him throughout the competition, he displayed good awareness and knowledge of his ingredients and why he was preparing and cooking them in that way."
In the spirit of the competition, Daniel, crucially, paid close attention to local sourcing and seasonality, and took advice from his team at the restaurant, particularly his head chef Danni Barry and restaurant proprietor Simon Rogan, one of Daniel's role models.
Narrowly beating 16-year-old Jacques Verite, who works full time at his Dad's family run restaurant in Southport, Merseyside, Daniel now automatically qualifies for Young National Chef of the Year later this year, and will receive a week stage at a top restaurant and a set of professional chef's knives for winning North West Young Chef 2013.
Judging at this year's final were Brian Mellor, chairman of judges, Nigel Crane, managing director of Essential Cuisine, Steven Doherty, chef consultant, Mary-Ellen McTague from Great British Menu and Christopher Basten, chairman of the Craft Guild of Chefs.
North West Young Chef, which invites young chefs from Greater Manchester, Lancashire, Merseyside, Cheshire and Cumbria to compete against each other, was borne from Brian Mellor's desire to recognise rising stars from the region with emphasis on local provenance.
At the county heats and then at the final, contenders have to cook a three-course meal for two using North West, seasonal produce costing up to £25, a challenge that has produced some spectacular results over the years.
Introduced last year, county heat winners get to attend a masterclass with an acclaimed chef prior to the final as an opportunity to hone particular skills with the industry's best, with the 2013 finalists being treated to a session with Chris Holland, Head Chef at Alderley Edge Hotel and contestant on Great British Menu.
For more information on the competition, call 01606 541490. There is also a Facebook page and you can follow events on Twitter (@NWYoungChefComp).