Portsmouth pub's chef wins national award with crispy pigeon liver and Japanese gnocchi

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FORGET pork scratchings and pickled eggs with your pint - a pub chef from Portsmouth has won a national competition with his crispy pigeon liver and Japanese gnocchi.

Luke Emmess, Head Chef of the Still and West in Old Portsmouth, has been named Fuller’s Chef of the Year, winning a four day placement in the Roganic restaurant in Hong Kong.

Local chef, Luke Emmess preparing pumpkin bread. Picture: Habibur Rahman

Local chef, Luke Emmess preparing pumpkin bread. Picture: Habibur Rahman

Eight chefs from Fuller’s pub across the UK - including three from around Portsmouth - were given set ingredients to create a three course meal in the competition at Havant & South Downs College in Waterlooville yesterday. 

For Luke, the win was made even sweeter by the venue. 

He said: ‘South Downs is my old college, so it’s really nostalgic coming back here today.

‘And I’m a bit of a seasoned chef when it comes to this - I won the junior category three years ago, and I have been in the final for the last two years

Ricky Farmer using a blow torch to cook some mangos. Picture: Habibur Rahman

Ricky Farmer using a blow torch to cook some mangos. Picture: Habibur Rahman

Despite being under pressure to impress with his malt and barley smoke cod with Japanese seaweed gnocchi, the 26 year old said he ‘never’ feels stressed. 

He said: ‘I had a child when I was 17 - working full time and with full time college work. 

‘I never stress - I have three kids and I’m a head chef, so I’ve got to have that skill.’

The chef won the junior category of the competition in 2016, with four days at The Croft and the Social Marina restaurants in Dubai as the prize. 

Local chef, Luke Emmess scooping avocado. Picture: Habibur Rahman

Local chef, Luke Emmess scooping avocado. Picture: Habibur Rahman

But Portsmouth-based Luke said elite international restaurants couldn’t compete with British pubs when it came to ‘buzz.’

He said: ‘I’ve personally never had the experience of working in a restaurant with a Michelin star or an award like that - but I would not give up what I am doing. 

‘The buzz of service the creativity, the rush, the adrenaline is what i want.’

The final saw Niam Jiggins, from The Ship in Langstone, winning Service Coach of the Year, while the winner of Havant & South Downs College own Chef of the Year competition was Jonny Smith.  

More than 40 chefs entered the competition.