Five veterans have battled it out to win a Yorkshire cooking competition – 'Masterchef style'.
Every two years, Help For Heroes organises the contest in which local veterans are mentored by top chefs, giving them the chance to learn practical cooking skills.
“Probably about ten years ago our head chef would go to Phoenix House [Recovery Centre] and train some of the veterans to cook a Christmas dinner,” explained Lady Felicity Cunliffe-Lister, who hosts the competition at Swinton Park.
“After a few years, I wanted to change the format, so that we could bring together some local chefs and the veterans with a view to them, perhaps, launching themselves into a new career.”
All veterans have their own reasons for getting involved.
Mark Ferguson, who has previously struggled with alcoholism and drugs, hopes to make a career in the food industry.
Before the competition, he admits he hasn't done much cooking: “Pasta… not foie gras, no!”, before adding that he felt optimistic about his chances.
“Very confident,” he told Forces News.
“I can’t see any other competition, not even with the hat!”
The man in the Union Jack chef’s hat is former Royal Engineer, Chris.
Unlike Mark, he does not want to turn his cooking into a profession. Instead, he hopes to show his children he can cope on his own after the death of his wife last year.
But like Mark he admits, he too was a novice at cooking before the competition:
“Well, I did microwave meals!”
After time is called on the cooking, the judges are presented with five meals from which to choose a winner.
“Like I said guys, they’re all brilliant, but I think the one that stood out for me and the rest of the judges was this little fella here,” he continues, reaching over to pull Mark’s dish to the front.
“Very happy, very proud,” Mark told Forces News afterwards.
“Now I know I can present and make food like that, I’ll definitely look for a career in food and become a chef hopefully!”