A CHEF from Little Sutton has struck gold in a national catering competition.

Darren Ryder and his colleague Antony Smith, from Liverpool, who work in the catering section at Everton Football Club, have taken the gold medal in the Salon Culinaire contest for professionals working in the food industry.

Run as part of The Hospitality Show held at Birmingham’s NEC, Darren and Antony, who work for Sodexo Prestige, which runs the catering at the club, were named ‘Best in Class’ in the Major International Contract Catering/Football Stadia award category.

The pair beat chefs representing football clubs from across the UK to take the coveted title.

This isn’t the first time Darren and Antony’s skills have been recognised – last year they received a silver medal at Hotelyimpia, the catering world’s equivalent of the Olympics.

Some of the culinary delights the chefs had to prepare for the contest included a two-course menu of pan-seared fillet, cheek wrapped in string potato served with samphire mousse, and a ‘forest floor of foragers’ delight’ featuring a saddle of venison for main.

Speaking of the win, Darren, 38, said he felt ‘relieved’ when he first heard the news.

“After winning silver last year it was a relief because I think the only reason I didn’t the gold then was because I was 30 seconds late getting my main course up!” he said.

Ian Simpson, general manager of Sodexo Prestige, said: “It’s a huge acknowledgment of the skills and expertise of the chefs at Everton and it’s to the credit of everyone involved in the catering at Goodison Park that we’re going from strength to strength and our success is down to a real team effort.”