Young Colburn chef takes part in contest at Rockliffe Hall

Ryan Pickersgill, 17, of Colburn.

A young Colburn chef will be battling the heat of the professional kitchen to compete in a competition run by the region’s only five star hotel resort.

Level 2 and 3 Darlington College catering students have been invited to compete for the title Aspiring Chef of the Year and to take part in Rockliffe Hall’s food festival.

Among those taking part is level two patisserie student 17-year-old Ryan Pickersgill.

Students are being asked to plan a menu, including starter, main course and dessert, all with links to the North-East, using largely local ingredients.

They will have to prepare their dishes, photograph them and submit the menu for consideration by some of Rockliffe’s top chefs.

Level 2 professional cookery students will tackle the starter, Level 3 the main course and Level 2 patisserie the dessert. They will be judged on innovation, presentation and flavour.

A shortlist of aspiring chefs will be drawn up to compete in a cook off at the college on January 17.

The winning dishes will be reproduced by chefs, with students overseeing their concoctions, at Rockliffe Hall, Hurworth, when it stages its food festival and served at a banquet for up to 150 industry professionals, friends and family on February 9.

Organisers say that, as well as being an incredible occasion, the opportunity could lead to work experience and employment for the most successful students.

Darlington College tutor Dawn Cobb-Neate said: “We are delighted that Rockliffe approached us offering this amazing opportunity for our students to show what they are capable of producing.

“They will have to cope with cooking under the pressure of competition which will recreate what they can expect in the world of work.”