An ambitious young chef at The Pass restaurant at South Lodge hotel has been named Chaîne des Rôtisseurs National Young Chef of the Year 2014.
Ricki Weston, 21, from Storrington, a Chef de Partie at South Lodge Michelin star restaurant The Pass, fought off competition from nine rival chefs to win the competition.
In the competition held at Worthy Down in Winchester on March 13, he created three dishes from a mystery box of ingredients in three hours.
However, he faced a nerve-racking wait until March 27, when he was crowned champion at an awards ceremony at The Dorchester, Park Lane, London.
Ricki said: “I couldn’t believe I’d won for a few seconds and wondered why everyone was looking at me.
“Walking up to the stage to collect my trophy was surreal. Once I calmed down I sighed with relief because the guys at work would have given me some stick about having the night off and losing!
“When I opened the box I was really pleased and quickly started to come up with my menu. I could almost hear Matt Gillan (head chef of The Pass) and Steven Edwards (head chef, The Camellia restaurant) giving me advice on which ingredients to use.”
From his box of ingredients, Ricki created grilled mackerel with roasted celery and Thai style broth, roasted chicken breast, butternut squash risotto, onion and morel cream, and rum and vanilla panna cotta, caramelised banana and pistachio.
Ricki’s mentor Lewis Hamblet said: “I am personally very proud of what Ricki has achieved. He is a very talented individual and will go far.
“It’s been a pleasure coaching Ricki. This is only the beginning – I believe he has a very bright future ahead.”
Ricki will now travel to Durban in South Africa in September to represent Great Britain.
He is also set to spend five days training at the Lerbach Restaurant in Germany, which has two Michelin stars, as well as a two day internship with the Royal Wedding’s chef, Anton Mossiman.
Ricki has worked at South Lodge restaurants for almost three years.
He has been working alongside Steven Edwards, the winner of Masterchef: The Professionals last year.
Ricki recently moved to The Pass, run by former Acorn Award winner Matt Gillan.