TALENTED Christchurch chefs with a flair for fine food have battled it out in the kitchen for a prestigious prize.

Four chefs from restaurants around the borough took part in the Christchurch Food and Wine Festival’s Professional Young Chef of the Year competition on Thursday.

The contest, which took place in the kitchens of the Escoffier restaurant at Bournemouth and Poole College, saw the chefs – Ryan Carpenter from the Captain’s Club, Raymond Pang from the Nelson Tavern, Ryan Proudley from Splinters and Jack Stoner from The Kings Arms – take part in a basic skills test and a one-hour cook-off.

The basic skills test challenged the four chefs – all under the age of 25 – to cook a folded omelette, a flat omelette and scrambled eggs before they embarked on their dish.

Part of the brief for the chefs was to design a main course dish with a strong local influence using seasonal products, with minimal food-miles.

The judges included David Boland, lecturer of vocational excellence in culinary arts at the college, James Golding, head chef at The Pig at Brockenhurst, Sarah Howard from the Academy of Culinary Arts, Darren Lewis, managing director of Chef’s Mate and Karl Wiggins, head chef of Gordleton Mill.

And after tucking into each dish, the panel decided Jack Stoner from The Kings Arms came out on top with his dish of summer cannon of Meadowbrook Farm lamb, Sopley asparagus and broad bean fricassee, peppermint and aged balsamic split dressing with potato gallette.

David said: “These chefs seem to be getting better every year. It was a pretty good effort from them today.”

Mary Reader, president of the Food Festival said: “We like to encourage our young chefs to challenge themselves and the fact that they are prepared to come and enter a competition such as this is wonderful.

“It is an important part of their ongoing training, which doesn’t finish until they leave college.”