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6th June 2024

Young North East chef ‘cooking up a storm’

Written by: Edward Waddell
A young North East chef is making a name for herself after winning a regional cooking accolade and securing a job with James Close, the former chef patron of two Michelin star Raby Hunt.

Abigail Smith, a commis chef at Rockliffe Hall, recently competed against other chefs to win the title of North East Young Chef of the Year. She was both the youngest entrant and only young woman in the competition.

As a result of her win, Abigail has earned a coveted spot in the semi-final of the national competition Young Chef of the Year, organised by the Craft Guild of Chefs.

The 18-year-old from Darlington caught the eye of many top regional chefs but it was James Close who offered her a job and promotion to chef de partie at his new summer residency TERRA, which opens at Rockliffe Hall on 13th June.

Abigail, who is still studying at New College Durham, said: “It was a little bit intimidating. I was up against older chefs. I was both the youngest and only girl in the competition.

“Everything went fairly smoothly during the morning competition. The only issues were my equipment, which kept breaking on me, but somehow, I got on with it. When the result was announced I did get a bit emotional – relief as much as anything.”

She is delighted to get the new job with James Close and one day hopes to become a head chef and or even run her own restaurant.