Meat Merchant chef crowned best in North East
After a two and three-quarter hour cook-off between eight North East chefs, The Meat Merchant‘s in-store chef, John Connell, has been crowned North East Chef of the Year 2012. This was Connell’s fourth appearance in the annual competition organised by the North East Culinary Trade Association (NECTA).
Competitors were judged on skills, presentation, and taste. Connell, who is from New Zealand, came in second place in each of the last three competitions, but now has a win under his belt.
Although happy with his new title, The Meat Merchant chef has no plans to enter the competition again. Connell told JesmondLocal: “I don’t really need to prove myself…I know what I’m capable of.”
Connell and his business partner opened The Meat Merchant in November 2011. Before opening the shop, Connell worked at The Vermont Hotel and Seaham Hall. He has also done consultancy work for Newcastle United.
In the following interview, Connell talks to JesmondLocal about his recent award, the pressure he faced during the competition, and his Meat Merchant colleagues’ reaction to his win: