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Thursday, 18 December 2014

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Meet Zest's Ricky and our other chefs

CHEF Ricky Andalcio left the kitchens of London for Whitehaven in Cumbria where he owns and runs two busy restaurants: Zest and Zest Harbourside.

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Serving up a treat: Ricky is very much involved with the local community. Here’s he is pictured helping out at a special evening at the West Lakes Academy in Egremont

He has a passion for great food, taking advantage of all the wonderful local produce Cumbria has to offer.

Ricky started his culinary career when he was 16 and did a YTS course at a gentleman’s club in St James’s, London. He moved to Langan’s Brasserie, which was owned by top chef Richard Shepherd and film star Sir Michael Caine and frequented by the rich and famous, including actress Joan Collins.

He spent two years cooking with Albert and Michel Roux before joining the Directors’ Dining Rooms agency, working for Satchi and Saatchi and Natwest Markets.

Through the agency he met his wife, West Cumbrian-born Emma.

On moving to West Cumbria, he opened the Zest restaurant in the town to much critical acclaim. It’s probably no surprise that prime minister Tony Blair decided to eat there while on a visit to the area.

Ricky and Emma built on the success of that venture by ploughing more than £200,000 into the town to create a new cafe-bar with up to 40 new jobs.

They transformed a former fresh fish shop and warehouse on the harbourside into a two-storey, 100-seater restaurant.

It’s been a huge success with its harbour-side location, good food and friendly atmosphere.

Ricky continues to make numerous TV appearances, either as a guest or as a host. He’s also a regular contributor to the Times & Star.

Among his most recent TV appearances was UKTV’s Market Kitchen.

Ricky said: “Market Kitchen focuses on using seasonal and preferably local ingredients. I’ve lived in Cumbria for 10 years now and feel qualified to showcase the amazing produce that’s right here on our doorstep.

“They were also interested to learn how I lost weight and have been able to keep that weight off.

“By changing my lifestyle and the way I eat, I’ve proven that you can lose weight but don’t have to compromise on exciting and flavourful food.”

The presenters on the show were Tom Parker-Bowles and Gordon Ramsay’s wife, Tana.

 NICK MARTIN

NICK Martin has become a permanent fixture at food events in Cumbria over the last few years. When you get a feel for his passion for local produce and the importance of sustainable sources, you’ll know why.

He took to the stage during the cookery theatre at the 2007 Whitehaven Maritime Festival (the year when Jean-Christophe Novelli and Keith Floyd also came to town) and Nick not only gave his own great demonstrations but was on hand during every demonstration to help and offer encouragement.

On his website (www.nickof thyme.com) he relives how he helped kitchen wizards such as Floyd and Cumbria’s own food ambassador Annette Gibbons.

“I got to do two live shows of my own where I roasted whole sea bass filled with lemon, lime and ginger. I finished it off in Floyds Thai style by sprinkling it with coriander, garlic and ginger, and then pouring over searing hot oil so it sizzled and spat all the flavours into the arena. Then I cooked sea bass fillets with roasted red peppers and brown shrimps in coriander and lemon butter – more applause! This was getting better by the minute!

“Then the Sunday came around and brought Jean-Christophe Novelli with it. I’ve worked with him before but this show was just packed to the rafters – we had to open the sides of the cooking theatre to allow the crowds to see what was happening.“He cooked scallops with black pudding and apples, goats cheese and apple tart tatin, and to finish he wowed the audience with his sugar work creating spirals and nests with caramel.“Once again I was invited onstage with him and he is such a nice guy by the way he pushed the attention onto me getting me to talk about what I did and my involvement with the festival and shows.

“This time it wasn’t just an ovation of applause it was like we had just won the World Cup, beaten Mike Tyson and broke the hundred-metres record all in one day!”

He uses his many demonstrations to showcase Cumbrian food and drink and his chatty patter revolves around the local producers who supply his ingredients.

His message is simple: use them or you’ll lose them.

An AA rosette award-winning chef, Nick has also had his creations published by the RSPCA’s farm assurance Freedom Food alongside dishes from Antony Worrall Thompson and Ainsley Harriott.

“I am passionate about food,” he says. “I want people to know how I feel about it. I enjoy passing on information about recipes I have cooked and created – that’s why I enjoy demonstration cooking, I really enjoy the interaction, talking to the audience, imparting information and knowing everyone in the audience wants to taste the dish and wants to go shopping for the ingredients and ‘have a go’ at creating it.“I always keep things simple when it comes to cooking as I love the buzz of someone being able to create one of my recipes with ease and satisfaction using wonderful local produce.

NURUL HOQUE

NURUL Hoque came to this country with his family in 1969, when he was 14.

He started learning his trade in Leicester, washing dishes and gradually picking up his cooking skills, before moving on to work in some of the top Indian restaurants in the country.

Nural and Abdul Karim opened The Akash on Tangier Street, Whitehaven in 1994. Over the years he has been creating some mouth-watering dishes much to townsfolks’ delight. He has become something of a local celebrity – he’s known as ‘Chef’ by his friends and his customers at the Akash (and at his latest business, The La’al Indian Takeaway).

Nurul has a dedication to cooking and to good food, striving to come up with new dishes and flavours for his discerning customers, and recently he cooked at the Mayor of Copeland’s Fourth of July charity event on the harbourside – a roaring success.

MARTIN FRICKEL

MARTIN Frickel, 19, from Kendal, was Northwest Young Chef finalist 2009. He works as a chef at the Michelin-starred L’Enclume in Cartmel, owned by Simon Rogan.

Martin trained at Kendal College from 2005-2008 and was amongst the final eight in the UK and Ireland, of the Gordon Ramsay Scholarship 2008.

He is very passionate about using local produce and supporting local suppliers, and allowing the produce to speak for itself but including some complex cooking techniques.

CRAIG SHERRINGTON

CRAIG Sherrington is Head Chef at The Duke of Edinburgh Hotel in Barrow. A regular champion of local produce, Craig has demonstrated in the Made in Cumbria food hall at many events.

Since graduating from Lancaster and Morecambe College in the early nineties, he has worked at many Michelin and AA rosette starred establishments throughout the south of England and London.

Returning to the Lake District, Craig has seized the opportunity to pursue his hobby in outdoor sports and his passion for local produce.

MICHAEL WESTON-COLE

MICHAEL Weston-Cole is the Head Chef at the Waterhead Hotel at Ambleside.

Previously Michael was a head pastry chef at several prestigious hotels in the south of England and in 2001 he was the runner-up in a national competition to find the Meat Chef of the Year.

During the summer he helps Made in Cumbria to promote local produce at events throughout Cumbria with entertaining and informative demonstrations.

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