Andrew Bennett from The Chequers in Maresfield in running for Sussex Young Chef of the Year

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A YOUNG chef from Maresfield has reached the shortlist of the County’s top food and drink awards scheme.

Andrew Bennett works at The Chequers, Maresfield, a business acquired as part of celebrity chef Marco Pierre-White’s resurrected Wheelers group.

Andrew, 22 joins eleven others who have risen effortlessly above other contestants in this year’s Sussex Food and Drink Awards, Sussex Young Chef of the Year category. More than 2,300 votes have already been registered.

He said he’s always wanted to be the best at his chosen profession and moved from Preston, Lancashire to the South of England when he was just 17 years old to train with and work for Marco.

He cites as his inspiration Elizabeth David’s quote: “If it grows together, it goes together” and will happily forage or fish for local, seasonal produce. His ambition is to run his own restaurant by the time he is 30.

Chequers general manager, Chris Hanks said: “An amazing talent for someone of his age, Andrew is technically superb, very creative and has a wealth of experience already. A great motivator, he is easy to work with and very approachable.”

Voting for your favourite candidate is easy, simply go to www.sussexfoodawards.biz and register – it only takes a few minutes and could be the deciding factor as to whether these young chefs get through to the next round or not for the Masterchef-style cook off to be held in the kitchens at the Amex Stadium.

Other remaining categories for this year’s awards include: Best Farmers Market, this year sponsored by the Harveys; Food Producer of the Year sponsored by The Southern Co-operative; Drink Producer of the Year sponsored by Sussex Food & Drink Network; Best Eating Experience sponsored by Mayo Wynn Baxter; Farmer of the Year sponsored by Knill James; Best Food/Farm Shop sponsored by South Downs National Park and Collabor8 and Sussex Butcher of the Year sponsored by Natural Farms.

Voting has now been re-opened at www.sussexfoodawards.biz for the top six to go forward into a Masterchef-style ‘cook off’in November at the Amex stadium.