Exciting news for gourmands: the North East Culinary and Trade Association yesterday named Alex Walker as its North East Young Chef of the Year after a head-to-head battle against six more of the region’s best rising talent in a live cook-off at St James’ Park on 4 October.
Alex, who’s 23 and from Gateshead, is a demi chef de partie at 21 in Newcastle, and has been with Terry Laybourne’s 21 Hospitality Group for the last two years. He started out in the kitchen of a family-run Italian in Gateshead while studying at Gateshead College before moving on to Fratello’s in Jesmond and from there to the Broad Chare in 2014.
Alex took the title by serving up a fillet of pork with a chicken, sage and onion mousseline (that’s a really, really light kind of mousse, aerated food fans) and black pudding fritter followed by a dessert course of iced vanilla parfait with poached pear, salted caramel and liquer de Poire William.
The other finalists were: Daniel Donnelly of Hotel Indigo; Justice Sibanda of Peace and Loaf; Katelyn Wilson of Ladhar Leisure; Amy Chipchase of Langley College; Callum Bell of Newcastle College; Nathan Kelly of The Star Inn; and Shaun Allan of The Coach House at Middleton Hall.
Speaking afterwards, Alex said: ‘I’m really proud to have won the title of NECTA’s North East Young Chef of the Year as I was up against some strong competition. The run up to the day of the competition was intense; I was practising my knife skills and dishes before work and during my split shifts as well as in any spare time I had. When they announced me as the winner, I was totally chuffed.’