Top chefs all set for city cook off

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FAMOUS chefs Raymond Blanc and Gordon Ramsay could be going head to head in Milton Keynes’ own version of MasterChef, the Citizen can reveal.

And you, the public, will be able to judge which one produces the finest dishes.

The two legends are both to be invited to take part in the city’s first ever Chef’s Challenge - a competition cooked up by the chamber of commerce to promote the first class hotel and restaurant training facilities in Milton Keynes.

Students from Newport Pagnell’s De Vere academy and Milton Keynes College will act as sous assistants to star chefs from top local restaurants, hotels and gourmet pubs.

They will battle for the prestigious best chef title on a strictly neutral territory – the well-equipped kitchens at Willen’s ExtraCare village.

Members of the public can pay £20 to sample the resulting two-course meal in the ExtraCare restaurant, where they will have special voting buttons to become the judge and jury.

The first of three rounds takes place next Thursday, February 10. Tickets can be booked from the Chamber of Commerce on MK 259000.

“It should be a fantastic evening,” said the chamber’s chief executive, Rita Spada. “The food, obviously, is going to be wonderful and there will be wine tasting and cocktails.

“We’ve already approached Gordon Ramsay and Raymond Blanc and it’s certainly a possibility that one or both of them could take part.

It’s just a case of juggling their timetables and checking they are available.”

The message behind the chef’s challenge though is not about the famous chefs, but more to highlight the city’s “phenomenal” success in helping young, unemployed people find a career in catering and hospitality, said Rita.

Since the De Vere academy opened last October it has shown a 96 per cent success rate in training such youngsters. Meanwhile Milton Keynes College produces a steady stream of excellent graduate chefs each year.

With Milton Keynes boasting the fourth highest number of catering covers in the UK, most are snapped up locally.

“These future young chefs will be at the service of the audience as they get to demonstrate the skills that will one day take them to top venues they dream of,” said Rita.

“One of them might even be the next Raymond Blanc or Gordon Ramsay – who knows?”