Tor Na Coille Hotel head chef Colin Lyall was crowned the region’s top cook at a prestigious awards ceremony in Aberdeen last night.
The Banchory-based culinary king was named as winner of the chef of the year title at Elphinstone Hall, Aberdeen University, after a thrilling two-day cook-off at the Granite City campus of North East Scotland College.
Other winners in the North East Scotland Chef and Restaurant of the Year 2019 competition included Ballater’s Rothesay Rooms, which won restaurant of the year – a title it also scooped in 2017 and 2018.
Mr Lyall was one of five winners in the competition’s five categories for chefs.
His winning menu had a starter of seared scallops, charred leek, pig cheek, pickled shallots, onion and sea purslane.
A main course of lamb loin, lamb shank croquette, baby gem, goats curd, pancetta, peas and mint jus was followed by a desert of lemon posset, raspberry coulis, upside-down cake, meringue, raspberry espuma, lemon and balm.
The young chef of the year gong went to Renz Mangalile, of Saplinbrae Hotel, Mintlaw.
Mr Mangalile’s winning menu started with butter-poached Amity langoustine, with Stuartfield black pudding and burnt orange dressing.
It was followed by a chicken supreme, with braised coconut rice, charred pak choi and adobo sauce, and a desert of lemon bavarois, thyme shortbread and lemon tuille.
The seafood chef of the year award was won by Martin Cicmanec, of the Chester Hotel, Aberdeen.
Graham Mitchell, of Newmachar Hotel, came away with the Scotch Beef chef of the year accolade, while Kyle Jackson, of the No 1 Bar and Grill, Aberdeen, took the top pastry honour.
The hotel restaurant of the year award went to Douneside House, Tarland, while the bar food and best afternoon tea awards both went to Newmachar Hotel.
It is the second year in a row that Grant Wright and his team at Newmachar Hotel have won the bar food award.
The competition – the largest regional cookery contest in Scotland – is organised annually by Aberdeen-based Hospitality Training.
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Chef of the year judging panel chairman Joe Queen said it was “another inspiring event for the north-east”, showcasing “talent in abundance”.
He added: “The whole event is a must for any young aspiring chef of the future.”
Judging for the restaurant and hotel restaurant of the year titles, as well as the bar food and best afternoon tea awards was done by unannounced inspections.
Bruce Sangster, formerly of Michelin-starred Sangster’s in Elie, Fife, led the judging panel for these categories.
Mr Sangster said: “It was refreshing to see that, where possible, ingredients from the region were being used.
“The kitchen brigades taking part in the competition demonstrated both classical and modern cooking techniques. There is a real desire to improve, and take their culinary offer to an even higher level.”
Hospitality Training general manager Karen Black said: “It takes real dedication to work in busy kitchens and deal with the pressures of modern day cooking, and yet still find the time to practice and prepare to take part in the competition.
“That takes real commitment and dedication to their craft. We should be rightly proud of the talent we have seen these past few days”.