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Knorr NECTA North East Chef of the Year 2012
John Connell from The Meat Merchant in Jesmond, Newcastle upon Tyne, beat off seven other chefs to win the Knorr NECTA North East Chef of the Year 2012 title.
The competition was the highlight of the two day salon culinaire organised by NECTA (North East and Culinary Trade Association), which took place at the Newcastle Civic Centre last month. Competitors had to cook three courses in two and three-quarter hours using crab for the starter, beef for the main course and chocolate for the dessert to impress the judging panel of leading chefs – Cyrus Todiwala from Café Spice Namaste, Paul Gayler from The Lanesborough Hotel and Paul Bates from the Intercontinental Hotel – all based in London, plus Ian McAndrew from the Blackaddie Country House Hotel, Scotland. Connell's winning dishes were East Coast crab with Jerusalem artichokes, dry aged beef with ragout of shin and morel mushroom crumble, followed by dessert of "chocolate garden textures". Craft Guild vice chairman Christopher Basten was one of the leading judges on the first day of the show when Newcastle College won the best overall college competition. Sponsors included: 3663, Brakes, En Place Foods, Essential Cuisine, Gem Hospitality & Catering, Goodfellows, Koppert Cress, MCS Technical Products, Pritchitts, Roller Grill, The Meat Merchant and Unilever Food Solutions. Knorr NECTA North East Chef of the Year 2012 finalists John Connell, The Meat Merchant, Jesmond, Newcastle upon Tyne (first) Noel Barker, Langley Castle Hotel, Northumberland (second) James Burton, Vallum Cooking, Wall, near Hexham (third) Paul Johnson, Close House Hotel, Wylam Phil Hall The Doubletree Hotel by Hilton, Newcastle John Pattinson, Jordans Restaurant, Ryton David Rootes, Holiday Inn, Jesmond, Newcastle Jared Bell, Six Restaurant, Gateshead