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Young chef reaches final of regional competition

Oliver Mather

A young Windermere chef has reached the final of the annual North West Young Chef of the Year competition.

Oliver Mather, 20, chef de partie at The Punch Bowl Inn and Restaurant at Crosthwaite near Kendal became the first finalist to be announced after winning a cook-off at Kendal College on Wednesday 11th April.

Oliver follows in the footsteps of Arthur Bridgeman Quin who previously won the North West competition in 2015 and was runner up in the UK finals last year.

His menu of Morecambe Bay plaice, cockles and shrimps, Cumbrian Lamb, faggot, and carrot and Rhubarb soufflé with Mirk Howe farm rhubarb and ginger anglaise saw off strong competition from another three chefs from around the North West region.

Oliver’s dessert Rhubarb souffle

Oliver will now attend a masterclass with an acclaimed chef before taking part in the final at South Cheshire College on Wednesday 23rd May.

All four finalists had to create a 3-course menu using locally soured, seasonal produce and prepare and serve it to the judges within a two and a half hour cook off.

Speaking after receiving his award, Oliver said: “I’m so relieved and excited for the next stage and will keep to my style, and the Punch Bowl’s style of cooking – using good quality ingredients, classic methods and simple flavours.”

Oliver was encouraged by Punch Bowl owner, Richard Rose and Arthur, to get involved in the competition, and said: “He had a very enjoyable experience, and met some fantastic peers and chefs in the industry. He learnt so much from his involvement in the competition and I’m sure I will too.”

The esteemed judging panel was made up of Chairman, Brian Mellor, The Green Room’s Jon Fell and 20 Stories, Alan Wycherley.

The annual awards are sponsored by CHR, Sousvide Tools and Essential Cuisine and look for talented young chefs under 24 from Greater Manchester, Lancashire, Merseyside, Cheshire, and Cumbria. This year’s competition saw a record number of entries.

The other three finalists were Jacques Verite from Bistro Verite in Southport, Steven Reddy from Rothay Manor in Ambleside, and Matthew Stanworth from Northcote in Blackburn.

The overall winner will proceed to the semi-finals of the national competition and receive £500 in cash, a professional knife set, and a weekend for two at The Mere Golf Resort & Spa in Cheshire. For more information, visit https://www.essentialcuisine.com/chef-life/north-west-young-chef.

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