Chefs showcase Manx ingredients as they compete for title

Tuesday, 29 August 2017

Chefs will go head to head, using the finest Manx ingredients, to contest a prestigious cookery prize.

Marcus Purcell, chef patron of Noitre Café and Bistro in Laxey, and Sam Kelly, who runs an outdoor catering business, will compete for the Chef of the Year title at the Isle of Man Food & Drink Festival.

Via its Food Matters strategy, the Department of Environment, Food and Agriculture (DEFA) is growing the value of the food and drink sector.

The DEFA-run festival takes place on Saturday 16 and Sunday 17 September and the competition, sponsored by Robinson’s, is among the highlights of a packed programme in the Manx Cookery Theatre on the Sunday.

Marcus and Sam won through to the finals at a closely contested semi-final in June.

Marcus will recreate his ‘world of umami’ using Manx-reared Ballakelly Farm pork, which he says is the best he has cooked with anywhere in the world.

He said:

‘Reaching the finals of Chef of the Year at the Isle of Man Food & Drink Festival gives me a feeling of satisfaction and achievement. It allows me to promote to young people how rewarding a career as a chef can be.

‘Using Manx produce whenever possible in my café/bistro gives me the chance to showcase the incredible fresh produce grown, bred and made on our Island and fished in our sea.

‘I am then able to serve our customers good, wholesome dishes and benefit local producers at the same time. Nothing beats Manx produce.’

Sam will reprise her semi-final dish, Bourbon-spiced Manx pork medallion tatin with caramelised apples, smoked, crispy bacon and walnuts served with Manx honey Bourbon sauce.

Sam specialises in private functions, posh picnics, buffets and private dinner parties.

‘For a small Island, we have a wide variety of eateries and some amazingly talented chefs catering for people whose expectations when eating out continue to rise,’ she said.

‘These days, diners want to know where their food comes from and take pride in what Manx producers are capable of creating. 

‘My dish uses locally sourced pork, Manx-grown apples, honey from Manx bees and dairy products from our Creamery. All the products are so readily available and, for my catering business, I always use Manx first.

‘It is important we keep the growing food culture within our community and encourage young chefs. University College Isle of Man (UCM) has fantastic facilities where they can learn a passionate, fast-paced and constantly creative career.’

On the same day, Marcus’s son Bailey Purcell and Marcus Boyd, both hospitality and catering students at UCM, will contest the Student Chef of the year competition, also sponsored by Robinson’s.

Food and Drink 2017

Bailey, who works at Noitre Café and is studying for NVQ level one, created a locally caught Pollock salad. Marcus, who is an NVQ level two student and works at Jaks Bar and Steakhouse, cooked a plate of summer lamb with pea and mint puree, summer vegetables and crab apple and mint jus.

DEFA Member Martyn Perkins MHK, the festival’s special guests Ladies in Pigs, well-known local chef Tony Quirk and Paul Caisley from Robinson’s will judge the competitions.

The Chef of the Year receives £500 cash, an engraved plaque and £500 for their business to spend on advertising. The Student Chef of the Year takes home £250, a trophy and a certificate.

Tickets for the Isle of Man Food & Drink Festival cost just £4 (day) and £5 (weekend) for adults, with admission free for under 16s. They can be booked via Villa Gaiety or purchased on the gate.

For more information about the festival, visit the Isle of Man Government's Food section, follow the festival on Facebook, on Twitter and on Instagram.

The festival is sponsored by PokerStars, Robinson’s, Magnet, Thai Thai, Isle of Man Teas and The Abbey and The Forge restaurants and held In Association with Manx Radio.

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