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All in the game for gifted chef

Deer John - John Watson of Pittenweem, whose venison and duck specialities have propelled him to the final of the 2014 Game Chef of the Year contest (Neil Doig, SSFM 0114016)

Deer John - John Watson of Pittenweem, whose venison and duck specialities have propelled him to the final of the 2014 Game Chef of the Year contest (Neil Doig, SSFM 0114016)

Talented cook John Watson has just received the best Christmas present ever – and he’s hoping for the experience of a lifetime in the New Year.

John is in the final of a nationwide search to find the best upcoming professional game chef in Britain.

He and nine other enthusiasts will compete in a cook-off at The Cook School Scotland, in Kilmarnock, this month.

John (24), of Pittenweem, and his partner Taniko are still celebrating the Boxing Day birth of their first child, son Kyler – and they hope the festivities will be set to continue if he cooks up a winning combination.

The contest is organised by Braehead Foods, in association with Staff Canteen and Highland Game.

The road to the final began in September, as applicants had to submit two game-based dishes – one starter, one main – using one feathered and one furred animal source.

Judges were looking for fresh, innovative concoctions, and John’s presentation of venison ravioli and a duck breast dish – with blackberry bon bon on the menu as well – helped secure his passage to the final.

The 10 finalists – each of whom will receive £100 – will be again be required on January 27 to prepare, cook and present two game-based dishes to judging panel.

John said he was very pleased to have travelled so far in his first competitive event.

The ex-Waid Academy pupil has worked offshore as an operations technician with Shell, but cookery has been a big part of his life for many years.

He worked with well-known seafood boss Craig Miller in St Monans and is also a friend of Dundee’s Adam Handley, recently a ‘Masterchef’ runner-up, who encouraged him to enter the game chef event.

“I was always passionate about seafood, being brought up in a fishing family and working at sea as well, and wanted to find out what was available locally,” said John.

“ If I cook well in the final, then I definitely stand as good a chance as anybody.

“I really didn’t expect to to get so far but, already, it has opened up a lot of opportunties.”

The overall winner will receive a once in a lifetime trip to the woodlands of the southern Stockholm, Sweden, where they will hunt wild boar.

Second and third place will also sample a deer stalking trip on a Highland estate.

 

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