Young chefs win national seafood cooking contest

Maldon and Burnham Standard: Michael Balding and his girlfriend Amy Hawthorne, with chef Jean-Christophe Novelli. Michael Balding and his girlfriend Amy Hawthorne, with chef Jean-Christophe Novelli.

A young couple have been named national champs in a seafood cookery contest.

Michael Balding, who works at the Prince of Wales pub in Stow Maries, and his girlfriend Amy Hawthorne, 19, cooked for judges including Jean-Christophe Novelli in the UK Young Seafood Chef of the Year Competition.

The pair recently completed their professional cookery course at South Essex College in Southend and cooked three courses for the challenge at the Grimsby Institute in Lincolnshire last Friday.

They competed against eight other teams from across the country.

Michael and Amy, both from Wickford, won prizes including £500 each and £1,000 for catering equipment for their college.

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