Twenty-one-year-old Edwin Kuk, senior chef de partie at the Art School in Liverpool, has been named as Essential Cuisine’s North West Young Chef of the Year 2019.
Kuk (pictured with judges Brian Mellor and Jonathan Harvey-Baines) was described as having a phenomenal work ethic and was praised for having set himself a huge challenge to execute detailed dishes containing numerous components.
The competition calls on young chefs to create a three-course menu for two with seasonality at its heart. Kuk’s winning menu consisted of: new season Formby asparagus with free-range poached egg and a classic hollandaise; assiette of Goonsnargh corn-fed chicken with pan-roasted breast, glazed wing and a confit leg pithivier, new season baby vegetables, morels and chicken jus; and a Hooton strawberry tart with crème diplomat, elderflower jelly, brandy snap and granola.
“Words can’t explain it – I’m so happy, I’ve not stopped smiling. In the semi-final, I prepared a soufflé with ice-cream, but I knew it was risky – it’s a dish dependent on temperature and equipment – so I changed my dessert for the final and it paid off,” said Kuk.
“I want to say thanks to my mentor Paul Askew, my colleague and fellow finalist Bethan and the whole brigade at the Art School.”
Alongside the coveted title, Kuk receives an automatic seeded place into the Young National Chef of the Year semi-final, plus £500, a weekend for two at Cheshire’s Mere Golf Resort & Spa, and a £100 Fazenda gift voucher.
Executive judge Brian Mellor commented: “It’s been a tough competition – the hardest we’ve judged by far – but it was Edwin’s passion, incredible skills and perfect execution that stood out. That fierce determination and talent is incredible to witness – we can’t wait to see it again from him come the national semi-finals.”
The 2019 judging team includes Jonathan Harvey-Barnes, senior development chef from Essential Cuisine; Steven Doherty of the English Lakes Culinary Academy; Matt Davies of the British Culinary Federation; and BBC Great British Menu stars Craig Sherrington, former owner of Virginia House, Cumbria, and Ellis Barrie, chef and co-owner at the Marram Grass in Anglesey.
The full list of finalists included:
• Edwin Kuk, 21, senior chef de partie, the Art School, Liverpool
• Jan Vrancken, 21, chef de partie, the Cartford Inn, Preston
• Bethan Disley-Jones, 17, apprentice pastry chef, the Art School, Liverpool
• Adam Green, 21, commis chef, Twelve Restaurant and Lounge Bar, Lancashire
• Sean Anthony-Noonan, 24, head chef, the Griffin Inn, Eccleston
• Oliver Fitton-Thomas, 22, sous chef, the Ryebeck hotel, Bowness-on-Windermere.