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The north-east’s top chefs and restaurants revealed

North east of Scotland chef of the year at Meldrum House hotel, Oldmeldrum. In the picture are from left: Stephanie Duncan, hotel restaurant of the year, Marcliffe hotel: young chef, Alix Frost, Entier Ltd: chef of the year, Ross Cochrane, Palm Court and James Forbes, Rothesay Rooms at Ballater, restaurant of the year.
North east of Scotland chef of the year at Meldrum House hotel, Oldmeldrum. In the picture are from left: Stephanie Duncan, hotel restaurant of the year, Marcliffe hotel: young chef, Alix Frost, Entier Ltd: chef of the year, Ross Cochrane, Palm Court and James Forbes, Rothesay Rooms at Ballater, restaurant of the year.

The north-east’s top chefs were unveiled last night following a pulsating cook-off to sort the best from the rest.

Ross Cochrane of the Palm Court Hotel, Aberdeen, was crowned chef of the year, while Alix Frost of Westhill-based catering company Entier came away with the top gong for young chef.

The pair impressed a distinguished panel of judges to scoop the top two honours for cooks in the North East of Scotland Chef and Restaurant of the Year 2017 contest.

Other honours presented in front of a large audience at the Meldrum House Country Hotel, Oldmeldrum, included the restaurant of the year title, which went to the The Rothesay Rooms at Ballater.

The Marcliffe Hotel at Pitfodels came away with the hotel restaurant of the year accolade, while the Falls of Feugh Restaurant at Banchory was hailed as offering the best afternoon tea.

The top bar food award went to the Dunavon at Dyce in Aberdeen.

Mr Cochrane, who also won the seafood chef of the year award, wowed the judges with a starter of poached rabbit in a sauce, with spring roll, pancetta, squash, wild mushrooms and pickled bramble.

They were also impressed by his main course halibut, with sea vegetables, leek and truffle cannelloni, roasted cauliflower, Jersey Royals, brown shrimp, and butter.

To round off his prize-wining menu, he served a lemon, thyme and buttermilk panna cotta, with berries, white chocolate sorbet and strawberry jam.

Ms Frost’s winning menu started with a lamb sweetbreads, with pea puree, asparagus, confit shallot and Madeira.

Her main course of rabbit, offal, ragu, savoy and carrot, followed by a desert of chocolate souffle, chocolate and orange sauce, with tonka bean ice-cream and a pastry twist, confirmed him as the judges’ choice for the young chef award.

Judging panel chairman Kevin MacGillivray, catering and hospitality manager for the National Trust for Scotland, said: “There were fantastic cooking skills on show, which caused a great deal of deliberation.

“The chefs didn’t make our jobs easy. I was also delighted to see the juniors improve and come back from last year.”

Other winners included Flynn Pirie of the Rox Hotel, Aberdeen, who scooped the pastry chef title and the Dunavon’s Steven Castle, who was named lamb chef of the year.

Michelin-starred chef Bruce Sangster helped judge the restaurant categories.

The contest is organised annually by Aberdeen-based Hospitality Training, Scotland’s only industry-specific group training body.

Sponsors and supporters for the 2017 contest included Braehead Foods, Entier, ESS, Federation of Chefs Scotland, Fresh, Fresh Food Company, HIT Scotland, McWilliam Aberdeen, Mercure Aberdeen Ardoe House Hotel, Meldrum House Country Hotel, North East Scotland College, Reed Global, the Press and Journal, Simpsons of Buckie, Turriffs of Montrose and Steelite International.

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