Teenage chef in Peak challenge

COOK OFF: Pierce O'Connor, of Wirksworth, with other candidates at the Young Chef of the Year competition.
COOK OFF: Pierce O'Connor, of Wirksworth, with other candidates at the Young Chef of the Year competition.

A TALENTED Dales teenager cooked up a storm in a nail-biting Master Chef-style ‘cook-off’.

Pierce O’Connor, 19, of Wirksworth, who works at Le Mistral in the Market Place, donned his whites to compete in the prestigious Young Chef of the Year challenge.

Five contenders took up the gourmet gauntlet in the ‘pressure cooker’ environment of a working kitchen to create a mouthwatering selection of starters and main courses in two hours.

Independent judges assessed their culinary skills, at the University of Derby’s campus in Buxton, and shortlisted Pierce, for his dish of roasted Serrano mozzarella and seared venison with winter vegetables, as well as two other worthy candidates.

They will compete for the sought-after title, in Visit Peak District and Derbyshire’s forthcoming Excel Tourism Awards.

David James, chief executive of the official tourist board, said: “The Young Chef of the Year category proved particularly exciting during a tense, competitive ‘cook off’ in an authentic working environment – and judges debated long and hard before making their final choice.”

He added: “Now I and the rest of our team look forward to welcoming all shortlisted nominees and congratulating the worthy winners of all nine categories on what promises to be a superb Awards evening at Chatsworth, attended by the Duke of Devonshire.”

The winner of the award will be announced at the official tourist board’s Excel Tourism Awards presentation evening at Chatsworth on Thursday March 10.

Other shortlisted nominees for the awards include Gulliver’s Kingdom, Heights of Abraham, The Peacock and Hoe Grange Holidays.