Orkney

Orkney’s best amateur cooks are being urged to dust off their recipe books and aprons and enter this year’s local MasterChef competition.

Four people will be selected to pit their culinary skills against one another at October’s event, which is sponsored by Jewson and NorthLink Ferries.

The contest follows last year’s hugely popular Orkney Professional MasterChef competition, won by the Foveran’s Roddy Belford.

Roddy will be back this year as a competition judge and is keen to see how the all-amateur line up performs under pressure.

“I’m looking for some good tasty food with a bit of a wow factor,” he said. “I also want to see their personalities coming out in the menus. I’d urge contestants to keep it simple and avoid doing anything too over the top that’s going to stress them.”

And Roddy’s final words of advice? “Practice, practice, practice and do it against the clock.”

Hosted by BBC Radio Orkney’s Dave Gray and Robbie Fraser, the 2015 competition will be staged in the Orkney Theatre on 7 October.

Orkney Food and Drink’s Edgar Balfour said: “Last year’s inaugural Orkney MasterChef competition was such a great success it was clear to us that it just had to become an annual event. However, rather than stick with the professional theme this time around, we thought we’d really stir things up and make the 2015 event an all-amateur affair. Given the huge number of highly skilled amateur chefs in Orkney, we’re expecting another hard-fought, but fun, contest.

He added: “We’ve made a number of tweaks to the competition format which will hopefully make it even more enjoyable this time around. The all-ticket event will end with some lucky audience members getting the chance to sample the dishes, with the winning cook being awarded the title of Orkney Amateur MasterChef 2015 by our panel of judges.”

Although a professional competition, last year’s event did give one keen local amateur cook the chance to mix it with the full-timers, with Burray’s Shirley Davies stepping up to the plate on the night. She’s back this year as a judge.

“I would encourage any person out there who loves cooking to enter,” said Shirley, who’ll be looking for good presentation from the contestants. “It's an ideal opportunity for amateur cooks to showcase their skills with wonderful local produce.

“My advice for contestants is to be confident with their menus, practice more than once and time each phase. Most importantly, have fun and enjoy it, you will cook better that way. Personally, I closed my eyes, took a deep breath, focused on my menu and imagined I was at home cooking dinner and Dave Gray from Radio Orkney had just popped in for a cup of tea!”

She added: “My daughter Jo nominated me for the competition without my knowledge, but I’m so glad she did. It was a fantastic evening and a really memorable experience.”

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