Lee McKinnell-Harrison tipped for the top as he lands prestigious North East Future Chef title

Gateshead College student Lee McKinnell-Harrison was crowned North East Future Chef at the annual North East Culinary Trade Association (NECTA) hospitality salon.

The category, sponsored by Continental Chef Supplies, recognised the region’s best up and coming culinary talent.

Lee beat off tough competition from other colleges in the final held over two days at Newcastle Racecourse as part of the wider NECTA salon culinaire, which saw Michael Hall, of the Granby Inn and Restaurant at Longframlington, Northumberland, named North East Chef of the Year.

Students from eight colleges took part in the live Future Chef contest, after working in some of the North’s top restaurants for two weeks.

Lee was mentored by chefs at Marco Pierre White’s at the Hotel Indigo in Newcastle, going on to impress judges with a dish of lamb, pak choi and spring vegetables.

He won a week-long residential trip to Raymond Blanc’s luxury hotel-restaurant, Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons, in Oxfordshire, to work alongside some of the biggest names in the culinary world.

Many top chefs have been taught by or worked for Raymond Blanc at Le Manoir, including Heston Blumenthal, Paul Heathcote, Marco Pierre White, Michael Caines and John Burton-Race.

Second place in the Future Chef challenge went to Newcastle’s College’s Alisha Goldsbrough, who was tutored at Café 21, with the third spot going to Elliott Teasdale, from Gateshead College, who did his two week placement at Broad Chare in Newcastle.

Runner-up was Chris Hall, from Tyne Met College, who was mentored at The Keel Row in Seaton Delaval.

Sophie Hardy, marketing co-ordinator at Continental Chef Supplies, said the standard of dishes this year had been “phenomenal,” and showed “what amazing culinary talent we have to celebrate in the North East.”

She added: “We are thrilled to sponsor and provide our ongoing support to the NECTA Future Chef competition. It’s great to see so many businesses coming together and supporting the next generation of our hospitality industry, and we’re looking forward to growing and evolving Future Chef.”

NECTA chairman Douglas Jordan said Future Chef was a “life changing opportunity for these ambitious young chefs to compete against one another to showcase their culinary skills.

“We will be behind them all the way. This is not just a competition, it’s an ongoing relationship between us and the students.”