Kyle Bowman crowned North East Chef of the Year

Newcastle United development chef Kyle Bowman has been crowned NECTA North East Chef of the Year.

The annual competition took place at the Crowne Plaza hotel in Newcastle, where five professional chefs battled it out for a chance to be crowned champion. Each chef was asked to cook a signature three-course menu which showcased North East produce and demonstrated a knowledge of local supply chains.

Kyle – who looks after the fine dining operation on match days at Newcastle United – wowed the judges with his menu featuring North Shields crab, goat loin, and a twist on the classic apple crumble using an array of local produce.

Originally from North Shields, he started his career working weekends at The Grand Hotel in Tynemouth before building experience in Guernsey, Cumbria and Newcastle at Michelin star and 3 AA rosette restaurants as well as pubs and hotels.

On his menu, Kyle said: “I used the whole crab – brown and white meat – as a big part of my ethos as a chef is using all the product but keeping true to the flavour and not over complicating it.

“For the main course, I used goat loin from The Goat Company. I use goat a lot in my cooking as I feel it isn’t used enough, so I wanted to showcase how good it is. By using the goat’s curd from the same farm, I emphasised using as much of the product as possible. I chose Northumbrian potatoes as a garnish as they are some of the best potatoes in the country.

“The dessert was a take on my dad’s apple crumble. Growing up, it was a dish we would have most Sundays. I made mine using apples from Six Nine Orchard in Prudhoe, with wild red clover petals, white chocolate and an incredible wildflower honey from Northumberland Honey Company. The combination of flavours is a classic, but I have put my own twist and interpretation on the dish to show off my style of cooking and focus on getting the best flavour out of the region’s quality produce.”

Despite running out of time in his practice runs before the competition, on the day everything came together for Kyle. “I managed to finish with 30 minutes to spare,” he added. “The competition was tough, but I focused on my food and execution. I was extremely happy and overwhelmed when I heard that I had won. To have my name on the trophy next to some unbelievable chefs is something I’m extremely proud of.

“I have to thank my commis, Lawrence, on the day for his hard work in helping to keep my area clean and tidy, and for putting up with my demanding nature!”

The NECTA event – which also included inter-college skills competitions, a cook-off featuring chefs from across the Inn Collection Group for a Young Chef of the Year award and 21 Hospitality’s Future Chef award, took place as part of the HITS Expo at the Crowne Plaza in Newcastle. The two-day experience highlighted excellence within hospitality, innovation, tourism and supply from across the North of Tyne and beyond, and was organised by Food and Drink North East (FADNE) in partnership with NewcastleGateshead Initiative (NGI) and NBSL, and funded by the North of Tyne Combined Authority.

Ian McAndrew, chair of the judging panel, said: “Once again I was privileged to judge the North East Chef of the Year competition, something I have been doing almost every year since it started. This year, the standard was extremely good and bodes well for the future. Indeed, the standard across the two days in all competitions was much improved with some great entries and competitors in the students’ classes.

“Kyle presented us with three magnificent dishes using local produce – from North Shields crab to Morpeth goat and Northumbrian honey. He piqued our interest from the outset by choosing a loin of goat for his main course, and it did not disappoint. Well done Kyle and to all that entered. I hope to see all the contestants again next year.”

George McIvor, chairman of the Master Chefs of Great Britain, said: “NECTA 2023 was a breath of fresh air to the North East culinary scene. We had a really uplifting two days with our live cookery competitions, the perfect starting block for young students and restaurant chefs alike. The food scene’s future looks very bright in the North East with so many enthusiastic and passionate young people on show. Roll on NECTA 2024.”

Chris Jewitt, NECTA chair, and founder and CEO of Food and Drink North East, said: “We’re absolutely delighted for Kyle – a well-deserved winner. Celebrating and showcasing the very best of North East produce and demonstrating a strong knowledge of local, short supply chain, was a key part of the brief this year and Kyle nailed it with his original three-course menu that not only used local ingredients but also told a story of why those ingredients were selected. As well as the importance to our region’s culinary heritage and tradition, making links between local food and drink supply chains and the hospitality industry is critical in building a more resilient sector.”

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