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We're a county of foodies says top telly chef

PUBLISHED: 11:28 08 October 2009 | UPDATED: 11:06 23 August 2010

Master Chef of Great Britain and leading member of the Academy of Culinary Arts, Rob Kirby of Lexington Catering, took over the John Lewis Foodhall from Waitrose at Bluewater last night, wining and dining 150 food lovers. Pictured cold poached chicken steeped in a tomato and garlic dressing with a rocket and new potato dish.

Master Chef of Great Britain and leading member of the Academy of Culinary Arts, Rob Kirby of Lexington Catering, took over the John Lewis Foodhall from Waitrose at Bluewater last night, wining and dining 150 food lovers. Pictured cold poached chicken steeped in a tomato and garlic dressing with a rocket and new potato dish.

A GREAT British master chef entertained the crowds at a popular shopping centre and revealed his delight at the growth of food appreciation. Rob Kirby, 43, from Greenhithe, cooked up eight mouth watering dishes in the new Waitrose foodhall at John Lewis

A GREAT British master chef entertained the crowds at a popular shopping centre and revealed his delight at the growth of food appreciation.

Rob Kirby, 43, from Greenhithe, cooked up eight mouth watering dishes in the new Waitrose foodhall at John Lewis as almost 200 invited guests watched.

The chef, who appears on BBC's Saturday Kitchen, is a big fan of local produce and feels the residents of Kent are leaders when it comes to cooking.

He said: "There is a fantastic demand for quality food down here and we really are becoming a county of foodies in Kent.

"It is called the garden of England for a reason and where possible I use produce sourced locally in my catering business.

"This foodhall is as good as anything in London and it will make it easier for people from the area to get top quality ingredients."

Mr Kirby who runs the boutique catering company Lexington also says that experiences in the kitchen can teach youngsters some valuable life skills.

He went in to the industry after completing his GCSEs and in the 24 years since has cooked for members of the Royal family both at home and in the Middle East.

Mr Kirby added: "The fast paced high octane element of being in the kitchen really appealed to me and it is something I am very glad I decided to do.

"You learn discipline in the kitchen and for some youngsters it really can change their personality for the better."

Above all he was delighted to have developed a relationship with the store and hopes it will become a flagship venue in north-west Kent.

"It has been a fantastic night - speaking to shoppers and teaching them about different tastes and food is really exciting for me," he said.

"At Lexington we're passionate about using the best ingredients which is why I was thrilled to team-up with John Lewis."

The shoppers and guests were equally impressed, Linda Fraser, from Gravesend, said: "We only came into the John Lewis foodhall for some mozzarella and we ended up walking into a full blown cookery demonstration - what a treat!

"We have the recipe cards so we will make the dishes at home."

fintan.quinn@archant.co.uk

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