Former Bexhill High School pupil Ryan Tomkinson has been named Sussex Young Chef of the Year at the Sussex Food and Drink Awards.
At only 21, he is the youngest chef to ever win the prestigious title.
After leaving Bexhill High, Ryan then studied at Sussex Downs Catering College for one year.
His original job, whilst at school, was at the Trattoria, Bexhill, where he progressed from originally helping with cleaning duties to being promoted to pizzas, starters and desserts; finally helping the chefs with main course preparation and service.
Whilst there Ryan was offered a job at Marco Pierre White’s hotel in Maresfield, The Chequers Inn as commis chef. He worked hard and stayed late and worked during breaks to learn additional skills including butchery and fish preparation which have stood him in great stead for the future.
Ryan progressed through the ranks and after 18 months was offered a position of chef de Partie at Graveyte Manor West Hoathley and stunning hotel with a AA rosette restaurant.
He was a key member of the team and worked closely with the head chef to develop new dishes and service techniques. After just over a year Ryan wanted to broaden his skill base to include restaurant and banqueting which he enjoyed at the East Sussex National Golf Club in Uckfield.
Again Ryan adapted well and was instrumental in the implementation of a brand new menu within the restaurant and his skills were spotted and he entered young chef of the year 2015 where he got to the final and was runner up.
April 2015 saw the start of a new chapter in Ryan’s career working with Michelin star chef Matt Gillan at the Pass restaurant with the stunning South Lodge Hotel in Horsham.
Matt was finalist in the Great British Menu with his amazing goat main course and is a fantastic mentor for Ryan.
The kitchen within the Pass is all open planned and the chefs serve each course to the admiring diners and explain the composition of each dish.
Ryan was then nominated to enter the young chef of the year 2016 competiition.
The fiercely fought cook-off final took place towards the end of 2015 where each finalist produced a three course meal in 90 minutes containing locally sourced produce.
The dishes were then assessed by a panel of professional judges with the top three chefs going through to the Sussex Food Awards at the Amex stadium, near Brighton.
Ryan was in the top three again and after a tense period of waiting he was announced has the winner of the Sussex Young Chef of the year 2016 and at 21 the youngest ever winner.
Ryan still lives in Bexhill and his proud parents are His proud parents are Tracey and Carl Tomkinson the owners of family run independent Bexhill jewellers in EH Warford.
The meal Ryan came up with that impressed the judges was a starter of Brit Farm Lakes rainbow trout with cucumber, lime, samphire and clam, followed by a main course of New Barn Farm saltmarsh lamb, garlic and chestnut and a desert of Wobblegate apples, honey and yoghurt
All produce in the menu was locally sourced.
Dad Carl commented: “The future is bright for Ryan and we look forward to watching his progress in the coming years.”
The Sussex Food and Drink Awards celebrated its tenth anniversary with the 2016 competition.
The awards are all about supporting and boosting local farmers, food and drink producers and the outlets which use and sell Sussex produced fare.
Entries for the awards are nominated and voted for by the public.
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