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Chester chef is a winner

Winner announced in CH1ChesterBID sous chef challenge

CH1ChesterBID Sous Chef Challenge: Mike Hodges with Judges Gregg Wallace, Brian Mellor and Gaile Wundke

A chef from a Chester restaurant has won a cooking challenge in front of a crowd of hundreds of people.

Mike Hodges, of Upstairs at the Grill in Watergate Street, took the top prize in the CH1ChesterBID Sous Chef Challenge at the Chester Food, Drink & Lifestyle Festival at Chester Racecourse on the Easter weekend.

Mike was up against three of his contemporaries for the crown: Harry Redmayne from Bar Lounge, Sergio Alonso of Chez Jules, and Jack Hughes of the Coach House.

Sergio Alonso, Mike Hodges, Harry Redmayne and Jack Hughes with judge Gregg Wallace

The four finalists had 45 minutes to prepare a winning dish on the stage where they were judged by Masterchef star Gregg Wallace, Taste Cheshire’s Gaile Wundke and Harthill Cookery School owner Brian Mellor.

Mike pulled off a stunning custard souffle with a rhubarb sorbet, rhubarb salsa and crumble topping. Gregg Wallace described the dish before the start as “incredibly difficult and very ambitious, filled with potential problems, but a match winner if he pulled it off”.

Gregg Wallace said: “If this is the standard of cooking in Chester at this level then the future of food and drink is assured. This is the highest quality cooking by all four of our contestants and I was simply blown away.”

The food and drink festival held over Easter was hit by the weather but organisers say that more than 25,000 attended.

Festival organiser Stephen Wundke said: “Despite the heavy rainfall, it was an amazing turnout from our many visitors and they all seemed to have a great time.

"It was the best looking festival we have ever staged and it was a shame about the weather. However, this competition was a real highlight and both our young chefs and Gregg Wallace put on a fabulous show.”

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