THREE of Dorset's most talented chefs will be sharpening their knives for the big Taste of Dorset Awards cook-off at Bridport Food Festival tomorrow, Saturday, 16th June, at Askers Meadow.
The three chefs are Mark Hartstone of La Fosse at Cranborne, Mark Hammick of The Gaggle of Geese at Buckland Newton and Tim Attrill of The Hive Beach Cafe at Burton Bradstock.
Their recipes were selected by the judges from a mouth-watering selection of Dorset-inspired dishes submitted by top chefs from across the county.
Entries came from the 2009 Masterchef Mat Follas, who has the Wild Garlic restaurant in Beaminster and is about to open a new beach cafe at the Chesil Beach Centre; Brett Sutton, head chef of the Eastbury Hotel at Sherborne; JP de Ronne, who works with Mat and will head the team at the beach cafe; Nick Holt of The Grange hotel at Oborne; and Ian Simpson of The White House at Charmouth.
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The entries ranged from full menus to single dishes, but all made use of the wealth of locally grown and produced ingredients in Dorset - from wild nettles or garlic to sustainably caught fish or meat from native breed livestock.
The finalists' chosen dishes are:
Mark Hammick - Nettle Ravioli with Wild Garlic Cream
Tim Attrill - Wild Line Caught Portland Sea Bass Fillet, Chargrilled Dorset Asparagus with West Bay White Crab and Chive Hollandaise
Mark Hartstone - Crab mayonnaise with Hot Smoked Pigeon, Beetroot bhaji and Peach salsa
The cook-off will be compered by Michael Michaud and will start at 10am with Mark Hammick, followed by Tim Attrill at 10.45 and Mark Hartstone at 11.30. Each chef has half an hour to prepare the dish.
The judges will be Amanda Streatfeild, chairman of Bridport Food Festival, Nik Ralph, chairman of Dorset Farmers Markets, and Jo Yeatman, secretary of Dorset Farmers Markets. The winner will be announced at the 2012 Taste of Dorset awards dinner at The Exchange at Sturminster Newton on Friday 7th September.
The selection of finalists was a hard job for the judges who were given the recipes, without identification of the chefs. Jo Yeatman described them as "a great selection of recipes" and Nik Ralph said it had taken him a long time and "a lot of contemplation".
Fanny Charles, editor of Blackmore Vale Magazine, which runs the Taste of Dorset Awards, said: "We were delighted at the standard of entries and the support this new competition received from Dorset's leading chefs.
"The judging was unbelievably difficult - I wouldn't have wanted to make the choice, because they all sounded delicious. I am really looking forward to the cook-off on Saturday.
"We will be publishing the recipes in the BVM over the next few weeks. But in the meantime, if any readers or festival-goers would like the recipes they can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org."
The Best Dorset Recipe competition for professional chefs and cookery writers is sponsored by Dorset Farmers Markets. There is also a separate class for domestic cooks - please visit www.thisisdorset.co.uk/tasteawards for more information on this and all the 2012 Taste of Dorset categories.
Food demos at the food festival
When the Taste of Dorset cook-off is finished, there will be a programme of half-hour cooking demos in the Bridport Food Festival kitchen, starting at 12.30pm.
The afternoon series will be hosted by Ian Simpson of The White House Hotel.
First on stage will be Caroline Drever, talking about Dorset shellfish.
Tim Edwards of Somerset Distillery will lead a cider brandy tasting from 1.15-1.45 and he will be followed by charcutier David Richards of Capreolus Fine Foods (winners of the 2011 Taste of Dorset Innovation Award), talking about artisan English charcuterie, from 2-2.30. David will be accompanied by Tim Maddams, formerly head chef at the River Cottage Canteen.
The final demo of the day, from 2:45-3:15 will be exotic cooking using simple ingredients, with Shigeaki Takezoe.
As well as the cook-off and demos, there will be marquees packed with stalls selling some of the finest produce from Dorset and the West Country at Askers Meadow from 9.30am-5pm.
Today Friday and tomorrow Bridport Round Table hosts the annual Beer Festival.
Also today there is local food tasting at Felicity's Farm Shop at Morcombelake, a conference on developing a sustainable food system in West Dorset (at Bridport Town Hall), and a local wine tasting at Askers Meadow, from 7pm hosted by Furleigh Estate vineyard, Salway Ash, and Palmers Wine Shop, Bridport.
Sunday is Open Farm Sunday, with an invitation to visit Washingpool Farm at Allington and Denhay Farm at Broadoak, plus Bridport's Big Picnic at Askers Meadow.
For full details of the 2012 Taste of Dorset Food and Drink Awards, visit www.thisisdorset.co.uk/tasteawards