TEN of the best chefs in Christchurch have battled it out in a bid to win the title of professional chef of the year.

The competition, which is part of Christchurch Food Festival, was held at Bournemouth and Poole College.

Three finalists made it through to the grand final, which will take place at Purewell Electrical's Neff Cookery Theatre on Saturday, May 2, at 1pm.

Although there were due to be two finalists, the standard was so high, judges made the decision to include three.

They are Adam Hart and Luke Phillips from the Chewton Glen and Craig McColm from The Jetty.

Adam's menu included baked Flambards hen’s egg with wild garlic, mushroom, smoked sausage, truffle and brioche soldiers, sea bass with smoked oyster, dulse seaweed, razor clams, cockles and an oyster sauce followed by a rhubarb panna cotta.

Luke’s menu was crispy duck egg with smoked duck, asparagus and truffle, rack of lamb with morels, pea and marjoram puree and lamb sweetbread followed by a blackberry millefeuille.

Craig’s menu consisted of seared scallops with sweet corn purée and cockle popcorn, roasted turbot cutlet with chicken wings, truffle and crushed potatoes followed by rhubarb and custard panna cotta.

David Badley, director of Christchurch Food Festival, said: “The judges were very excited about this competition as they knew the standards would be very high.

"The chefs all know each other so there was quite a lot of friendly rivalry.

"It was a difficult job for the judges to come up with the finalists after tasting thirty dishes and they decided to choose three finalists as the quality of the dishes was so high.”

Judges included David Boland, senior lecturer in hospitality and catering at Bournemouth and Poole College, Sarah Howard from the Royal Academy of Culinary Arts, Liz Farrow from Bournemouth and Poole College, Luke Matthews, executive chef at Chewton Glen, James Golding from The Pig plus members of the Food Festival Committee.

All the dishes were tasted blind so that the judges did not know who had produced the menu.

Other chefs taking part were Kevin Brown from The Lord Bute, Oliver Bull from Splinters, Marc Carella from The Christchurch Harbour Hotel, Harry Fry from Splinters, Chris Lewis from The Captain's Club, Colin Nash from The Three Tuns and Rodney Sheaff from James and White.