After beating off the competition in the heats, chefs Darren Woods and Danny Johnson hope they have the recipe for success in the final of the I Love Manx Chef of the Year competition.
Darren, from 14 North, and Danny from The Abbey Restaurant, won through to the finals in a closely contested cook-off held at sponsor Robinson’s Mini Manx Food Market on Saturday.
Well-known local chef Tony Quirk, Janna Horsthuis from Robinson’s and Audrey Fowler, Marketing Officer with the Department of Environment, Food and Agriculture (DEFA) selected Darren’s dish, a vegetarian delight made of locally sourced beetroot, goat’s cheese, quail’s eggs, pea puree and walnuts, and Danny’s dish of Manx lobster, crab, potato salad, asparagus mousse, tomatoes and seeded crackers.
Narrowly missing out on a place in the finals were Matthew Neary, of Niarbyl Café, who used goat’s cheese, spring onions, watercress and bacon in his Manx wrap and roll plaice, and James Stubbs, of The Courthouse, who created a noisette of Manx lamb, sweet potato, fig and summer vegetable ribbons with roasted lamb jus.
The dishes were judged on local content, taste and presentation.
Audrey said: ‘It has been a really difficult job for the judges, the standard is so high with so many top-class restaurants coming forward. We would like to thank Robinson’s for sponsoring the competition and hosting today’s heats.’
Tony, who compered the heats, said: ‘All four chefs could have won in previous years, such was the standard.’
The final on Sunday 21st September at 3pm is among the highlights of the two-day Isle of Man Food and Drink Festival, being held in the Villa Marina Gardens (20th/21st September).
Joining Tony in putting the finalists to the taste test will be Richard Ronan MHK, Minister for Environment, Food and Agriculture, and Brian Brumby, President of the Manx National Farmers’ Union (NFU).
The winner will receive £500 cash and an engraved plaque, plus £500 for their establishment to spend on advertising.
John Horsthuis from Robinson’s said: ‘Hotels and restaurants are increasingly showcasing Manx produce in their menus and it was great to see four talented chefs putting the wide array of local ingredients to use in such imaginative ways, creating four completely different, delicious home-grown dishes. The final promises to be a treat for the taste buds.’
The recipes from the heats can be found by visiting www.gov.im/food and click on the link for I Love Manx Chef of the Year.
Photo - Judges, from left Audrey Fowler, Janna Horsthuis and Mr Quirk.