A GRANDMOTHER, an Oxford University researcher, an NHS health education specialist and a Jaguar Land Rover engineer are preparing to put the heat on one another.
They have reached the Grand Final of Aubrey Allen’s ‘Home Cook of the Year’ competition, for the live cook-off at the Leamington Food & Drink Festival on Sunday (September 7).
It’s not only a battle of the sexes in the live kitchen, with two women and two men putting their home chef skills to the test, but there’s a generation challenge at stake, with a 40 years’ age differential between the youngest and oldest competitors!
The quartet includes Sue Gallagher who has four children and seven grandchildren, was a magistrate for 20 years and is a district councillor for Leek Wootton.
Sue, who lives in Haseley Knob puts her culinary inspiration down to her mother and her upbringing as a farmer’s daughter.
In contrast Alex Stiby is in his twenties, lives in Leamington and is a researcher in cardiovascular health at Oxford University.
Alex also gives credit to his mum who taught him the basics and says his interest in cooking developed at university as a means of getting people together to socialise by enjoying good food.
The third finalist is Kate Reddington from Leamington who has worked for the NHS for 26 years with a focus on designing health education programmes, and in particular food and healthy eating. Her inspiration for cooking came from her grandmother and mother and she’s delighted that her passion for cooking has rubbed off on her two grown-up children.
Dario Canevazzi completes the line-up and brings an international flavour to the competition as an Italian national who came to the UK two years ago to work as an engineer for JLR. He lives in Leamington and like the other three finalists credits his mother, whom he describes as an amazing Italian cook, for influencing his culinary interests.
All four finalists were shortlisted on the basis of submitting their most favourite three course menu, which included a cold starter, a hot main course using Aubrey Allen’s ‘Farm Assured’ Cornish lamb and their very best dessert.
Each will be cooking their nominated lamb main course and providing their pre-prepared starter and dessert for tastings.
Michelin star chef Andreas Antona from Simpsons, and celebraity chef Brian Turner will be judging the finalists’ culinary expertise and execution. The gourmet duo will also be joined by Warwick and Leamington MP Chris White as the third judge, with the cook-off starting at noon.
In addition to being crowned ‘Home Cook of the Year’, the winner will receive two places at Aubrey Allen’s Butchery School and two places at Simpsons Cookery School including dinner for two and an overnight stay at Simpsons in Birmingham.
Leamington Food and Drink Festival is on Saturday and Sunday (September 6 and 7). Visit www.leamingtonfoodfestival.co.uk for full details.
The four finalists – left to right – Dario Canevazzi, Kate Reddington, Sue Gallagher and Alex Stiby with Peter Allen chairman of Aubrey Allen at the back. (s)