Young chef wins ‘Best in Lancashire’ in competition

Tasty: Cameron Norris's winning main course
Tasty: Cameron Norris's winning main course
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A talented young chef is hoping to batter the competition in the final of a prestigious cooking contest.

Cameron Norris, 21, from Chorley, has already been crowned the “best in Lancashire” in the county heat at the North West Young Chef of the Year competition.

The competition was of such a high standard, I didn’t think I could win it but I was confident in my menu

Cameron, a pastry chef at the Stanley House Hotel and Spa, is now hoping to cook up a storm on Thursday at the grand final at Manchester College.

Cameron fought off tough competition in the Lancashire heat from another five chefs working at restaurants, including Northcote and the Freemasons of Wisewell.

The winning dishes delivered by Cameron used locally sourced produce to create a menu of hand-dived King scallops with cauliflower risotto and Goosnargh duck breast with polenta puree, beetroot gnocchi and smoked Ashcroft beetroot. He also adopted a beehive to create his own delicious honey for a dessert of yoghurt panna cotta with Lancashire rhubarb and “Cameron’s honey.”

Cameron went on to attend a master class with an acclaimed chef to hone skills with the industry’s best, before going on to compete against the other regional winners in the final of North West Young Chef Competition.

He was originally inspired by his tutor at Runshaw College, where he completed a NVQ Level 2 and Advanced Diploma in Professional Cookery.

Cameron said: “The competition was of such a high standard, I didn’t think I could win it but I was 
confident in my menu.

“When planning for the cook-off, I realised that others would be demonstrating skills in classic desserts such as souffles and I wanted to stand out. I stood at my bench with my favourite seasonal ingredients and thought, ‘Wow this all works really well together.’”

While researching locally sourced produce, including honey to complement the dish, Cameron came across Andy Donnelly in Penwortham who helped him develop his own hive.

Cameron said: “I’ve now signed up to a bee keeping course later in the year with a view to supplying Stanley House with my own honey.

“I’m really looking forward to the next round. Not just to compete, but also to further my knowledge, thanks to my experienced peers, top class judges and also the calibre of other contenders.”

Throughout the competition, Cameron has been mentored by Stanley House Hotel and Spa’s executive chef, Steve Williams, its pastry chef and the North West Young Chef of the year in 2012, Lewis Gallagher.

Steve said: “It’s really pleasing to see Cameron develop. He’s been passionate about the competition. While he’s young, he’s also calm and methodical when putting his dishes together and that shone through to the judges. They were really impressed with his panna cotta.”

The North West Young Chef of the Year grand final will take place at Manchester College on Thursday, May 7.