Topsham sous-chef hopes to wow judges of cooking award

PUBLISHED: 10:00 03 October 2015

James Mason

James Mason

Archant

A Topsham sous-chef is hoping to be crowned as one of the best young cooks in the South West - after being nominated for the semi-finals of an industry award.

James Mason, 24, who works at the Salutation Inn, Fore Street, has been selected as one of four semi-finalists in the young professional class category.

His entry was picked by a panel of Michelin-star chefs, including Michael Caines, as part of the South West Chef of the Year award.

James said the nomination for the award came as a surprise to him.

He said: “I didn’t expect to get through that far. It was nice.

“To cook for some of the best chefs in the country is probably the best thing - it’s a chance for me to show what I can do for people I aspire to.”

James has never been far away from the kitchen after following his dad, who was also a chef, into the profession at the age of 15.

Starting off washing pots and pans at the Royal Beacon Hotel in Exmouth, he soon moved on to work with Michael Caines, who will be judging the semi-finals at Exeter College on Saturday, October 3.

For the competition, entrants had to come up with a two-course menu using set ingredients, which they can prepare in 90 minutes.

James chose to create a pan-fried and cerviche scallops with leak puree, roasted baby shallots, baby leak as well as scallop and bacon foam for the starter.

For the main course, he chose chicken with mushrooms, sweetcorn and truffle popcorn.

He will now have to prepare and cook the dishes in the 90-minute time limit, which will be judged by the panel of chefs.

If James is successful, he will go through to the final, also at Exeter College, on Thursday, October 29.

He wanted to thank the management of the Salutation Inn who have allowed him to order the ingredients he needs to practise his entry.

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