Chef beats rivals in county-wide annual contest

Wingrove Hotel, Alfriston. Chef Ryan Hunter, Young chef of the year
Wingrove Hotel, Alfriston. Chef Ryan Hunter, Young chef of the year

A young Alfriston chef wowed judges to snatch a place in the final three of the Sussex Food and Drink Awards.

Ryan Hunter now faces an anxious two-month wait to discover if he will be crowned Young Chef of the Year award.

The 20-year-old is a sous chef at the village’s Wingrove House. He was the youngest person to have got through to the final shortlist.

The former Seaford Head student competed against six other shortlisted chefs as they battled it out at the City College Brighton & Hove for the top spot on November 6.

Mr Hunter said: “I felt like I did everything I could at the time, but when I looked at everyone’s dishes I didn’t think I had a shout of getting through.

“My food looked good but theirs were more dainty. I just cooked what I know and do at the restaurant.

“So when I heard I’d got through I was absolutely ecstatic. It made all the hard work and planning worthwhile. I’d literally sat up all night before it making stupid amounts of lists on what I needed and had to do.

“It’s going to be an anxious wait for me now. It’s a long process to find out if I’ve won.”

The Sussex Young Chef of the Year award, sponsored by Cheese Please and Gram UK Ltd, is part of the Sussex Food & Drink Awards 2012/13. All contestants must be studying or at work and between 16-25-years-old.

The chefs were judged on sourcing ingredients, taste, presentation, creativity, saleability and customer appeal.

Mr Hunter’s produced a sea bass starter (caught on the morning of the competition), followed by downland rabbit (shot two hours before cooking) and a rice pudding complemented with a plum, apple and blackberry compote.

Roy Perrett, vice president of the Craft Guild of Chefs, said, “The six young chefs all produced menus of an amazing standard and selecting just three finalists was challenging with a display of such exceptional culinary skills.

“It was a very exciting and highly competitive afternoon from which I have come away with the names and addresses of six fantastic Sussex eateries.”

The winner will be revealed at the awards banquet, held at the Amex Stadium on January 31 2013. The event will be hosted by Sally Gunnell OBE and Danny Pike from BBC Sussex. For more details visit