SOMETHING is brewing at Peninsula Dining Room! Kane Dickinson, sous chef at the New Brighton restaurant, is promising to serve up a bolder, braver menu for his second appearance in our culinary contest.
The 26-year-old from Moreton briefly considered making every course vegetarian – but settled on the challenge of producing his own elderflower wine for the dessert.
Dad-of-two Kane says the 12 months since he was a finalist in 2010’s competition have seen him gain confidence in the kitchen.
It’s been a big year for his restaurant too – with Peninsula Dining Room making its debut in the 2011 edition of the prestigious Good Food Guide.
The restaurant was included in the influential tome as a reader recommendation – and Kane and head chef Ross Gray now have their sights set on next year’s guide.
Dad-of-two Kane says that goal is reflected in the food the kitchen team are producing.
He said: “When we looked it up it’s easy so we thought we’d do it ourselves and we’re using elderflowers from our manager Mandie’s garden.
“I think the food here is a lot better this year and I hope people see that.
“We’ve made it braver and we’ve been trying a lot of new things, experimenting a lot more.
“I think it’s a conscious decision. We want to challenge ourselves.
“Getting into the guide as a reader recommendation has spurred us on.
“We really want to be in there among the cooking scores next time.
“If we want to achieve things like that we can’t just sit back.”
After starting his career washing dishes, Kane’s first job was at Bar Italia in Liverpool.
He then went to work at Bobby’s Bar in New Brighton, where he met Ross.
Ross later offered Kane a job as his sous chef at the Green Dolphin and at Peninsula Dining Room when it opened in the summer of 2009.
The duo hope their hard work will help put New Brighton on the Wirral restaurant map.
Kane said: “New Brighton isn’t as high profile as Heswall or West Kirby and a lot of people are surprised when they come to eat here.
“We just want to get ourselves known and keep pushing ourselves.
He added: “I think I’m more confident in my decisions now and that’s reflected in my menu.
“I liked last year’s menu – I didn’t win but if I did my night again I don’t think I’d change any of it.
“Menu-wise I think I’ve done everything I can this year. There’s obviously the cook-off too but I feel fine about it.
“If you start getting nervous or worrying about it then you’re more likely to make mistakes!”
Away from the kitchen Kane is preparing for a very important date in September – his wedding to fiancee Jess.
The couple have two children, Charlie, three and Skye, two.
And both Kane and head chef Ross will be taking a break from the kitchen on the big day.
He laughed: “Ross offered to do the catering as his wedding gift but we couldn’t get the numbers down low enough for here.
“Plus he gets the day off if he doesn’t have to do it!”
Wirral Chef of the Year takes place at Peninsula Dining Room, 3 Grosvenor Road, New Brighton on Tuesday, June 14. The cost of a three-course meal is £18.95. To book call 639 8338.
The Wirral Chef of the Year competition is a partnership between Wirral News and Wirral Council, Liverpool Community College, Wirral Metropolitan College and Wirral Farmers Market.