Young chefs face live cook-off to claim title

Phil Vickery
Phil Vickery

Two young chefs have reached the finals of a national competition and now face a cook-off in front of judges including celebrity chef Phil Vickery.

Beathan James, from Corby, and Christian Dean Young, from Wellingborough, are through to the finals of this year’s Gluten-free Chef of the Year competition organised by Coeliac UK.

The competition is for professional cooks and catering college students who had to design a three course gluten-free meal for two people. This year the competition has got tougher with entrants being asked to showcase their skills by including gluten-free substitutes such as bread, pasta or batter cooked from scratch at the live final.

There are two categories; Gluten-free Chef of the Year, for professional chefs over the age of 23, and the Up and Coming Gluten-free Chef of the Year, for catering students and trainee chefs under the age of 23. Beathan and Christian, who both study at Northampton College, are through to the Up and Coming Gluten-free Chef of the Year final after an extensive first round of blind judging.

Viktorija Bernataviciute, from Northampton, who is the sous chef at the Wig and Pen in Northampton, is one of three finalists in the professional chef category.

The judges said: “We were once again very impressed with the quality and number of entries this year. After much deliberating, the six we have shortlisted for the cook-off demonstrated both creativity and a clear understanding of what people with coeliac disease would like to see on a menu when eating out. We are looking forward to seeing these finalists showcasing their gluten-free cooking skills at the live cook-off and tasting their creations to choose the winners for each category of the competition.”

Coeliac disease is an autoimmune disease caused by intolerance to gluten. Damage to the gut lining occurs when gluten is eaten. There is no cure or medication for the condition and the only treatment is a strict gluten-free diet for life. Without a gluten-free diet, the disease can lead to other conditions, such as malnutrition, osteoporosis, bowel cancer and also can cause infertility problems.

At least 1 in 100 people in the UK has coeliac disease.

The cook-off is on Monday, November 12.