Matt Gillan announced as lead judge for Sussex Young Chef of the Year 2019 competition ahead of closing date for entries

The line-up of judges for Sussex Young Chef of the Year 2019 has been announced ahead of the closing date for entries to the competition.

Matt Gillan from Pike and Pine, lead judge for Sussex Young Chef of the Year 2019
Matt Gillan from Pike and Pine, lead judge for Sussex Young Chef of the Year 2019

The panel is seeking top Sussex chefs aged 16 to 25 years old, who can submit their entries before the January 17 closing date on the Sussex Food and Drink Awards website.

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Nationally acclaimed chef Matt Gillan, from Pike and Pine and Red Roaster in Brighton, and Electro Pirate, will head up the new panel which includes fellow Michelin star chefs George Blogg, from Gravetye Manor near East Grinstead, and Tristan Mason, from Restaurant Tristan in Horsham.

Matt Gillan from Pike and Pine, lead judge for Sussex Young Chef of the Year 2019

The rest of the panel is made up of Daniel Clifford, from the renowned two Michelin star Midsummer House in Cambridge; Fran Villiani, food blogger and designer in Brighton; and sponsor and former restaurateur Adrian Burr, from Blakes Foods.

Matt said: “I think the Sussex Food and Drink Awards are simply great and I am really excited to be returning to judge the Sussex Young Chef of the Year for the third year and joined by some of my close colleagues and leading chefs in the UK.

"This competitive category gives such a fantastic opportunity and platform for young chefs to put their own thoughts down on paper and bring them to life.

"It’s so important that we keep inspiring the next generation and with limited opportunities to have that sense of ownership and achievement at a young age, this competition really does have a huge impact on them.”

This popular category, sponsored by Blakes Foods, is always bursting with talent and those making it through to the shortlist from their written application will have to prepare and produce a full three-course menu in a MasterChef style cook off, which takes place in March at the Gallery at the Greater Brighton Metropolitan College.

Adrian Burr, director of Blakes Foods, said: “As suppliers to the Sussex catering industry, we at Blakes are thrilled to be part of this prestigious and established award category.

"It’s vital we recognise the talent of young chefs who really understand working with seasonal fare and who can produce incredible dishes with local ingredients.

"I am really looking forward to the cook off to see what our top young talent can achieve.”

Two other categories remain open for entries until January 17, including Young Sussex Farmer of the Year – seeking a farmer aged 35 or under who is making a real difference on their own or on someone else’s farm, and sponsored by the South of England Agricultural Society in association with Farmers Weekly – and Sussex Newcomer of the Year, which is sponsored by SRC-Time, and could be any new food and drink business doing something special in Sussex.

The public can also vote online until midnight on January 17 for their favourite Sussex Food Producer of the Year, sponsored by Southern Co-op; Sussex Farmers Market of the Year, sponsored by Harvey’s Brewery; Sussex Butcher of the Year, sponsored by RP Meats Wholesale; Sussex Food Shop of the Year, sponsored by Sussex Food & Drink Network; Sussex Drink Producer of the Year, sponsored by Natural PR; and Sussex Eating Experience of the Year, sponsored by Natural Partnerships CIC.

Paula Seager, co-director of Natural Partnerships CIC, who runs the awards as a not-for-profit scheme to boost the local and artisan food and drink industry, said: “A record 15,000 votes were received for the Sussex Food and Drink Awards last year and we really want to beat that again this year.

"Sussex is blessed with a wealth of amazing food and drink and we want everyone to get out there this Christmas and support our local farmers, food and drink producers and the outlets that use and sell this superb local fare and most importantly vote for your favourite to win, it only takes a few minutes.”

As well as earning the huge respect and recognition that these awards now carry, grand finalists from all ten categories will be invited to attend a BAFTA-style ceremony on May 15 at the Amex Stadium in Brighton, where the winners will be revealed and 400 guests will enjoy a seven-course Sussex produce banquet, hosted by awards patron Sally Gunnell OBE and Danny Pike from BBC Sussex.

For more information and to vote for your favourites visit