Good enough to eat

DESPITE never having held a paintbrush before, an engineer has beaten off some of Britain's most artistic chefs to gain a top award for culinary sculpture.

DESPITE never having held a paintbrush before, an engineer has beaten off some of Britain's most artistic chefs to gain a top award for culinary sculpture.

Alan Hardcastle, a maintenance engineer for Sodexho catering based at Ipswich Hospital, created an intricate and detailed model made purely from marzipan and food colouring to win gold at the British Open Cookery Competition at this year's Hotelympia.

He beat off some tough competition from chefs representing top department store Harrods and others from some of the most exclusive catering colleges in the country, with his sculpture called Crock of Gold.

"It was a big surprise to have won because of the number of talented chefs taking part in the competition," Mr Hardcastle said.

"I have practised for over 40 hours in the run up to Hotelympia and it feels great to be rewarded for all my hard work."

What is even more surprising is that, prior to 1999, Mr Hardcastle, who lives with his wife, Hayley, in Broomfield Road, Ipswich, had never tried his hand at sculpture before.

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He said: "I have no background in art and only did a few lessons at school. A couple of years ago a few colleagues entered the Salon Culinaire that Sodexho organise every year and I thought I fancy that."

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