THE farthest flung heat of the 2014 Wirral Young Chef competition took place on the very outskirts of the borough on a chilly Tuesday evening in December.
Thnakfully, the atmosphere inside The Ship Hotel in Parkgate was so toasty and snug, everyone was happy to ignore the plummeting temperatures outside and enjoy Chris Moran’s carefully honed menu.
The 23-year-old from Irby had prepared three alliterative courses for his diners to enjoy; pigeon, pork and pear.
And with a keen eye on the local food industry, even a Brimstage gamekeeper was employed to provide the pigeon that made up the first course where the rich flavours of the bird was accompanied by salt bake beetroot puree, chanterelle mushrooms and red currant jus.
The standard has been excpetionally high across the first three of this year’s five heats and just like his predescessors, Chris excleed himself in presenting three beautifully plated dishes. The main course, a combination of pork cuts with vegetables could easily have been the dictionary definition of winter soul food.
This was followed by a poached and torched conference pear resting in a deliciously gooey chocolate marquise with chunks of homemade honeycomb.
It looked – and tasted – like a menu which underwent weeks of vigorous planning, as Chris testified.
The former St Anselms pupil said: “This was the first time I've been part of the Young Chef competition.
“I was nominated by my boss and since then it's been all go.
‘‘Pork especially is so diverse. You can do so many things with it.
“As for the pigeon, I've never really used game before so I tried it and decided to use it because it was seasonal as well and having the pear for dessert is always nice.”
One thing the Young Chef competition does allow is for someone at the start of their career to take charge of a kitchen for the evening.
“It was stressful,” Chris continued. “Very stressful.
“The first ten orders that came through we were in a panic but once we got into the swing of it we were all good.”
With his heat over, Chris has cleared the first obstacle lying between him and the 2014 title but there is still work to be done.
He added: “I'd be ecstatic if I won.
“The only bit to come now is the cook-off and obviously this can open a lot of doors for me as well but I'd stay at The Ship for quite some time before even thinking about that.
“I’d like to be a head chef eventually. I don't know where yet.
“I'd like to think I'd stay on Wirral but that's down to my girlfriend to decide!
“She's here tonight. I got a big smile from her when I walked past the table but I haven't had any feedback from her as yet.”
If her meal was as tasty as the one served at our table, Chris should be in the good books until at least Easter.