'My dream is to be head chef one day' - Young Whitby chef's pride at reaching final

Joseph Lees, 16, from Whitby, cooks with chef James Mackenzie.
Pictures: Tony Bartholomew/Turnstone Media
Joseph Lees, 16, from Whitby, cooks with chef James Mackenzie. Pictures: Tony Bartholomew/Turnstone Media

A young Whitby chef has spoken of his pride at appearing in the final of The Golden Apron competition - a prestigious award recognising the best young cooks.

Joseph Lees, 16, was one of three chefs who successfully cooked their way to the final which was held at The Pipe and Glass Michelin Starred restaurant - run and owned by chef James Mackenzie.

Joseph cooks his dish. Pictures: Tony Bartholomew/Turnstone Media

Joseph cooks his dish. Pictures: Tony Bartholomew/Turnstone Media


And despite not emerging with the top prize, Joseph has spoken of his pride at appearing in the finals and his intention to pursue a career as a chef: “I was very proud of myself and to be cooking alongside James Mackenzie was an absolute honour.


“I want to be a chef and my dream is to be head chef in a Michelin star restaurant. I now want to get an apprenticeship or work experience at a Michelin star restaurant.”


At the final, the three chefs each cooked a starter-sized portion of their ‘My Yorkshire’ themed dish for 70 guests who then voted ‘blind’ on the three dishes.


The Caedmon College pupil opted to cook a pan-roasted rack of lamb coated in a Dijon herb crust with sweet garlic, rosemary roots with a quince and rosemary reduction. He used Yorkshire lamb bred by his granddad.


Joseph’s interest in cooking has existed since a young age but was spiked when he began working in The Board Inn pub in Lealholm, washing dishes.


He watched the chefs create dishes and was inspired to get involved himself.


He now works in the kitchen on Mondays, perfecting his cookery skills.


His mother, Rachel Lees added: “I’m delighted that he got this far, he’s always making interesting dishes and has done from the age of eight.”


The competition was won by Zach Abbott, 17, from Stamford Bridge, near York.


James Mackenzie said: “This year’s result was the closest it’s ever been – the standard was just brilliant.


“It’s all about their ideas, their recipes, and it goes on the plate exactly the way they want it – there’s no doubt that these three have a very, very bright future.”


ASDA Innovations Development Chef Mark Richmond added: “Chefs seem to be getting younger and more inspiring – the skills that they show at such a young age are amazing. These three all have a burning ambition, which is very encouraging.”


Winner Zach will now work with Asda and Cranswick to develop new dishes that will be on ASDA’s shelves at Christmas.


Tim Rymer, CEO of JSR Farms, said that the standard of entries was getting higher, and the competition tougher, every year.

The competition set out to find Yorkshire’s best young chef, aged between 14 and 19.

Joseph was one of three chefs who progressed from a cohort of 8 semi-finalists.

The main sponsors were: Asda and Cranswick.

The event was organised by JSR, Yorkshire Wolds Cookery School and the Pipe and Glass Inn.

In-kind sponsors were: Russums, Wellocks, House of Townend, ABP food group and Dunbia.