Best young chef in North West Young crowned

A 21-year-old Senior Chef de Partie from The Art School, Liverpool has been crowned as the best young chef in the region, cooking his way to the coveted title of North West Young Chef of the Year 2019.

Edwin Kuk has been described by judges as having a phenomenal work ethic and was praised for having set himself a huge challenge to execute detailed dishes containing numerous components.

Kuk won judges over with a mix of skill and calmness under pressure to see off the advances of five other highly touted young chefs in a tense final held yesterday at Cheshire College – South and West. Jan Vrancken, 21 of The Cartford Inn, Preston was awarded runner-up.

The competition calls on young chefs to create a three-course menu for two with seasonality at its heart.

Kuk’s winning three-course menu consisted of: New season Formby asparagus with free range poached egg and a classic hollandaise, a main course of Assiette of Goonsnargh cornfed chicken with pan roasted breast, glazed wing and a confit leg pithivier accompanied with new season baby vegetables, morelles and chicken jus and a Hooton strawberry tart with crème diplomat, elderflower jelly, brandy snap and granola.

On the win, Kuk said, “Words can’t explain it – I’m so happy, I’ve not stopped smiling. In the semi-final, I prepared a souffle with ice-cream, but I knew it was risky – it’s a dish dependent on temperature and equipment so I changed my dessert for the final and it paid off.

'I want to say thanks to my mentor Paul Askew, my colleague and fellow finalist Bethan and the whole brigade at the Art School. Next is to win the Nationals! I have faith I can do the North West proud.”

The finalists in full:
Edwin Kuk, 21, Senior Chef de Partie, The Art School, Liverpool
Jan Vrancken, 21, Chef de Partie, The Cartford Inn, Preston
Bethan Disley-Jones, 17, Apprentice Pastry Chef, The Art School, Liverpool
Adam Green, 21, Commis Chef, Twelve Restaurant and Lounge Bar, Lancashire
Sean Anthony-Noonan, 24, Head Chef, Griffin Inn, Eccleston
Oliver Fitton-Thomas, 22, Sous Chef, The Ryebeck Hotel, Bowness-on-Windermere

Alongside the coveted title, Kuk scoops an automatic seed into the prestigious Young National Chef of the Year semi-final, plus £500, a weekend for two at Cheshire’s The Mere Golf Resort & Spa, and £100 Fazenda gift voucher.

Executive judge, Brian Mellor said, “It’s been a tough competition, the hardest we’ve judged by far, but it was Edwin’s passion, incredible skills and perfect execution that stood out. That fierce determination and talent is incredible to witness – we can’t wait to see it again from Edwin come the national semi-finals.”

The 2019 judging team includes Jonathan Harvey-Barnes, Senior Development Chef from Essential Cuisine, Steven Doherty of the English Lakes Culinary Academy, Matt Davies of the British Culinary Federation plus BBC Great British Menu stars, Craig Sherrington, and Ellis Barrie, chef and co-owner, The Marram Grass, Anglesey.

Essential Cuisine, CHR and Sousvide sponsored the compeition.

Also supporting the competition and the young chefs are industry supporters, Lancashire Life, The Staff Canteen, Robinsons Brewery, Robert Welch, Oliver Harvey, Villeroy and Boch, RD Wines, The Mere, and Fazenda