Search is on for best local home cooks

Talented cooks will have another chance to display their culinary skills with the return of a cooking challenge which puts local produce at its heart.

The event was launched last year with three finalists taking part in a cook-off at Shetland Food Fair.

Shetland Cooking Challenge winner Chris Percival in action at last year’s food fair. Photo: Dave Donaldson

Chris Percival was the inaugural champion, winning a foodie weekend at the Michelin-starred Restaurant Martin Wishart in Edinburgh. A similar prize is up for grabs this year, with the restaurant again hosting the winner.

Shetland Food and Drink organises the challenge, which this year is going under the name Taste of Shetland Cooking Challenge. Food and drink chairwoman Marian Armitage hopes to attract even more entries this year from enthusiastic home cooks. Entries are open.

She said: “The competition last year was not only great fun, it was really interesting to see how home cooks in Shetland use Shetland produce in their dishes.

“There was a lot of cooking talent on display in both the semi-finals and the final and we were bowled over by the standard throughout.

“Everyone who took part seemed to love the experience and we are looking to exceed last year’s success with this year’s competition. We are also delighted to be able to rebrand the competition as the Taste of Shetland Cooking Challenge.”

Anyone who thinks they have a menu that could impress the judges will need to give extra thought to use locally grown produce.

Ms Armitage said: “I hope that as many Shetland folk apply this year as possible. You don’t have to be an expert, you just need to love cooking, particularly cooking with local produce.

“To enter the competition you need to devise a three-course meal which uses Shetland produce wherever possible. As this year’s theme is ‘Grow Your Own’ one of the courses should show creative use of Shetland-grown fruit and/or vegetables.

“Entrants need to write a short paragraph describing the provenance of their main ingredients and any other information about their choice of menu. We are really looking forward to seeing some great entries again this year.”

The prize includes return flights for two people to Edinburgh; an overnight stay in the Malmaison, Leith; and a six-course tasting menu with matching wines at Restaurant Martin Wishart with champagne on arrival, coffee and hand-made petits fours and a visit to the kitchens.

Anderson Butchers is the sponsor for the competition. Owner Ian Anderson said the business prided itself on using local produce.

He said: “We strongly believe in Shetland produce, sourcing our beef and lamb on isle from GB & AM Anderson’s farm in Weisdale. Our expert butchers then carefully prepare the meat in store, ensuring a quality product from croft to plate.

“We love encouraging our customers to buy locally and try new meats, ingredients and recipes, not just for special occasions, but for everyday cooking too. That’s why we are delighted to be the first lead sponsor of the Taste of Shetland Cooking Challenge.”

Ms Armitage added: “We are delighted to have Anderson Butchers on board. Such a community-focused business is a perfect match for the competition. And this year we are thrilled to be working with Shetland College UHI, who are helping us with the organisation of the event. We are looking forward to working with the staff and students to deliver a great event this year.”

Entrants need to email their entry to: before midnight on Thursday 10th August.

Semi-finalists will be selected and all entrants will be notified by Thursday 17th August.

The semi-final will take place on Saturday 2nd September starting at 9am in the Shetland College. Three finalists will be selected by the judges. Entries will be allowed to have a helper with them.

The live final will take place at noon on Sunday 17th September at the Taste of Shetland Festival, with the winner being announced that afternoon.


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