Former boxer reaches final to find Britain’s best young chef

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A former boxer from south Derry has won a place in the final of a competition to find Britain’s best young chef.

Ryan Porter said he is “over the moon” at going through from the Birmingham regional final of The Roux Scholarship on Thursday.

The 24-year-old Upperlands man is now one of six finalists who will compete for the Roux Scholar 2018 title in London on March 26.

The title has been won by some of the country’s leading chefs.

Ryan held off stiff competition from 17 other young chefs at University College in Birmingham.

The judges included Alain Roux, Brian Turner, James Martin, André Garrett (scholar 2002) and Simon Hulstone (scholar 2003).

Michel Roux Jr commented that the competition was of “a very high standard, with no major mistakes, thankfully. It was a pleasure to taste recipes that were selected. There was some beautiful, very precise presentation. The dessert was a challenge this year, and some rose to that challenge better than others, as usual, the simplest desserts won the day.”

BBC TV celebrity chef James Martin added: “For me, the right people went through from the regional heat in Birmingham. The people who can cook, season and think on their feet. The dessert was tough this year.”

Ryan, who was confident going into the semi-final, hopes to win the competition and realise his dream of opening a Michelin two-star restaurant in Northern Ireland.

He is currently a chef at Northcote Luxury Country Hotel and Restaurant in Lancashire affer landing a job in Aiden Bryne’s Church Green Restaurant near Manchester.

When he was younger he boxed for St John’s Club in Swatragh, and did some cooking on the side. However, he admits to gradually “falling in love with cooking.”

His dad, Philip, well known in powerlifting circles, is “very proud” of his achievement and might well travel over to Westminster Kingsway College, London to see Ryan in action in the final against the five other hopefuls.