Cooking competition winner once set oven on fire

Kenny Beatson from Armadale won Kenwood's Disaster Chef contest. Picture: Greg Macvean

Kenny Beatson from Armadale won Kenwood's Disaster Chef contest. Picture: Greg Macvean

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A CHILDREN’S entertainer who once set fire to his grandmother’s oven while cooking Yorkshire puddings has become an unlikely winner of a national cooking competition.

Dad-of-five Kenny Beatson, 44, had hoped to impress Ellen Beatson with the perfect Sunday lunch when he doused his mini Yorkshires in oil and placed them in a hot oven.

However, in the process the oven erupted into flames and the roast beef was burnt to a cinder, meaning the family had to order in a Chinese takeaway instead.

Yet in just six weeks, the self-confessed “disaster chef” has undergone a remarkable transformation into a culinary guru to see off nine rivals in a live cook-off.

The finalists of Kenwood’s Disaster Chef competition had been selected from hundreds of hopeless cooks who entered a national competition, judged by a renowned chefs including Michelin-starred Raymond Blanc.

Kenny, from Armadale, served up judges a two-course meal consisting of Roquefort cheese souffle and garlic mushroom and ricotta raviolis served in spicy tomato sauce.

The judges, including Great British Bake-Off finalist Miranda Gore Browne and Kenwood development chef Martin Johns, chose his menu for the quality of the food and its presentation.

Kenny recalled: “It was a Sunday lunch I was making for eight people, one of whom was my granny.

“After the oven fire put paid to dinner plans we had to order two set meals for four people from the local Chinese takeaway.

“It’s something that I have never been able to live down at family parties and get-togethers since.

“My Uncle Kenny even calls it ‘The day I almost took out three generations with a Yorkshire pudding’.” On his Disaster Chef triumph, he said: “I’m gobsmacked to have won.

“It’s been such good fun, especially meeting the other nine contestants.

“I’ve made such good new friends as a result of the competition.

“I’m definitely going to make sure I continue to cook – after all, I can now say I’ve cooked a souffle for Raymond Blanc himself.”

The event was held at the London cookery school AVEQIA near St Paul’s Cathedral.

French chef Blanc, 66, himself entirely self-taught, was impressed with all the finalists’ progress since the start of the competition.

He said: “Gastronomy is all about creating new tastes, learning new skills and experimenting.

“It’s exactly what we wanted to achieve with the Kenwood Disaster Chef competition – helping less confident cooks connect with food.

“We equipped beginners with the basic tools for cooking and watched them build upon these skills to create delicious dishes.

“My own curiosity to learn about food began when my father gifted me a calendar and foraging map for my tenth birthday. I have not stopped foraging for new flavour combinations or cooking skills since and understand the magic of food.”

Kenny’s prize is a two-day Escape to Oxford package at Blanc’s Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons restaurant.

This includes two nights’ accommodation, a tour of Belmond Le Manoir’s kitchens, Raymond Blanc’s Menu Decouverte to enjoy on the first evening and an à la carte dinner on the second.

He will also get a day’s tuition for two at the Raymond Blanc Cookery School and £500 of Kenwood products.

diane.king@edinburghnews.com