The Warrington College played host to both the morning and the afternoon sessions of the 2nd and 3rd semi’s, and in total encompassed 5 hours of intense cooking, 13 chefs, 39 dishes, and several pairs of very tired feet!

On what was the hottest April day for 70 years, the sponsors from Essential Cuisine and CHR alongside the Judges and the college, all pulled together to ensure the day ran smoothly.

Chefs competing in the morning semi-final were; James Williams (Roski), Alasdair Aitken (Chefs Table), Livia Alaron (Maray Restaurant), Ruairi Erwin (Northcote), Jay Tanner (Chefs Table,) and Michael White (Where The Light Gets In).

Ruairi Erwin following his semi-final win

As a result of the 2.5 hour cook off, the winner was crowned as 23-year-old Demi-Chef Ruairi Erwin from Northcote.

His winning menu was Scorched and Crispy Squid with Blue Cheese and Apple Salad, Cumbrian Lamb Cutlet with Charred Liver, English onions and Formby Asparagus, followed by Tarlton Rhubarb, Crumble and Custard.

Speaking after his win, Ruairi said “I’m shocked to have won, it was my first competition and my last chance to enter because of my age. I knew I was fully prepped for it so felt confident in my dishes, but you never know what will happen on the day.”

“I decided to enter the competition after my Sous Chef, Danny Young, entered and won the title of North West champion, and through his seeded entry, went on to win the National Young Chef competition. I watched him progress under Executive Head Chef Lisa Goodwin-Allen. She really encouraged me to get involved in the competition too, to develop my skills and learn from the judges and other competitors.”

Asked how he’ll prepare for the final in May, Ruairi simply answered: “Grit. Determination. Practice.”

Chairman of Judges Brian Mellor said “it was great to see so many new faces competing, and new businesses engaging in the industry. Ruairi delivered a consistently high standard across all 3 dishes. All of the judges agreed that his starter was spectacular.”

The new competition format for 2018 will see the winner from each of the three semi-finals progress through to the final which will take place on 23rd May at South Cheshire College. For the unsuccessful chefs, there are still three top scoring places available, which will see the best runners up from across all three semi-finals progress through to the final, so all is not lost.

Judging on the day were Brian Mellor (Chairman of Judges), Jonathan Harvey Barnes (Senior Development Chef for Essential Cuisine) and Andrew Green (Executive Head Chef for The Lowry Hotel). The competition, sponsored by CHR, Sousvide Tools and Essential Cuisine, now gives Ruairi the opportunity to attend a master class with an acclaimed chef to hone skills with the industry’s best, before the final on 23rd May.