Michael Sutherland, the chef at the Star Inn, Alfriston, was named Sussex Young Chef of the Year at the prestigious Sussex Food and Drink Awards on Wednesday night. Michael impressed the judges and was presented with his award by Sally Gunnell.
The 24-year-old said, “I became a chef because I have had a massive passion for cooking from a very young age.
“I remember making jam and sponge pudding with my nan when I was only eight, and I was always helping out peeling potatoes and prepping carrots. I moved on to cooking at school and found a massive part of me that wanted to take it further in my life and at the age of 14 I had a very good opportunity to become an apprentice at Herstmonceux Castle.
“My career aspiration is to become a Rosette Award Chef, owning a gastropub or head chef. I would also like to become a Michelin Inspector in the future.”
Julie Garvin, the manager at the Star Inn, said, “Michael has a rare talent to create unique dishes from locally sourced produce cooked and prepared with flair and creativity.
“His is beautifully presented food with a knowledge of costings and a business sense. He manages kitchen staff with authority and finesse and is very impressive.”
In the cook off Michael chose a varied menu.
“My starter was Newhaven mackerel two ways, textures of cucumber, horseradish, samphire and nasturtium oil.
“My complete inspiration for this dish definitely comes from being by the sea. With such amazing fish and shellfish produced on our Sussex shores I have to use it to its maximum potential.
“Mackerel is one of my favourite fish despite it being one of the cheapest. I feel two combinations of textures and tastes go so well together on the plate and visually looks amazing. Everything about this dish is being clean, fresh and simple to keep the mackerel - the star of the show.
“My main was local south down venison loin, confit potato, ceps, celeriac, Swiss chard, shallot and juniper jus.
“The inspiration for this main course comes from living near a massive national park, the South Downs which is a fantastic area for game.
“I have chosen one of my favourite game meats as it completely fits the brief and seasonality. Although this dish is my own, I took some inspiration from Tom Sellers as he uses game very much to show and tell a story.
“I’ve taken this dish to show a story of it being wild and using as many ingredients as possible that are wild, earthy and simple to go along with such a deep flavoured and textured meat.
“Dessert was poached peach, honey and cardamom panna cotta, granola, raspberry sorbet and coriander.
“My inspiration for this dessert has been through the love of these peaches at such a young age. Honey and cardamom work incredibly well with the peach and I’ve re-adjusted it to how I want to showcase the peach.
“The raspberry sorbet brings a clean taste to the dish that cuts through the sweetness of the peach and panna cotta.”