Two of west Wiltshire’s hottest culinary prospects caused a stir in the kitchen earlier this month, when they won a prestigious cookery competition in Bath.
Alex Brownrigg, 19, from Melksham, and 23-year-old Trowbridge chef Martin Blake both won in their respective age categories in the Chef v Chef contest at Bath college on February 6. They work as chef de partie and sous chef at Freshford’s Homewood Park Hotel.
Alex, who attended Melksham Oak Community School and trained at Wiltshire College in Trowbridge, said: “It was tough, they sent out a list of ingredients in advance, and we had to come up with a menu and send it out to them. Then if they liked it you got through to the final.
“I’ve been at Homewood for 11 months now, so I was able to stick to what I knew.
“This has been great experience, and should help me in the future. My first job was at the King’s Arms in Melksham, and that gave me a good insight into the industry.
“I’d like to work at a Michelin-starred restaurant, but my ultimate aim would be to have my own place.”
His pan-seared breast of poussin with sweet potatoes and shallot impressed the judges, including celebrity chef Martin Blunos.
His colleague Martin, who recently moved to Trowbridge from Frome, went for a poached perch with beetroot and lemon marinade, which saw him to victory in the over-23 category.
He said: “It went a lot better than I thought on the day. I’d made a couple of mistakes, so I was surprised to win.
“I didn’t go to catering college, I worked as an apprentice. I started washing dishes and just went from there.
“This is a massive confidence boost for both of us, we were up against some big competition.”
Both chefs have won £250 each, and the chance for a week’s placement in a top British restaurant.