A YOUNG chef has earned himself expert training at a Michelin star restaurant after wowing the judges at a national cookery contest.

Michael Eminson, 20, from Ightenhill, Burnley, cooked up a treat at the Robbie Millar scholarship awards, earning himself work experience with one of the top chefs in Ireland.

Along with seven other contestants, Michael was asked to create a three-course meal with a basket of mystery ingredients.

He started with salad of lobster, apple and ginger; followed by loin of spring lamb with caramelised sweetbreads, broccoli and a herb foam.

For dessert, Michael created a chocolate nemesis with rhubarb and a mascarpone cream.

Ordinarily, the competition is a winner-takes-all.

However, it was such a close judgement between Michael and the other top finalist that the judges thought it only right to offer a second-place prize.

"I was so surprised when the results were called", said Michael.

"It was my first competition and I thought I had done really bad.

"I didn't expect to win at all. To get second place, never mind first, was fantastic."

Michael, currently working at Northcote Manor, Langho, as part of his NVQ apprenticeship, impressed the celebrity chefs, including Richard Corrigan, Paul Rankin and Michael Deane, so much that he was invited to take a place at the Michelin starred Restaurant Michael Deane in Belfast.

He will work under the tutelage of Deane and his head chef, Derek Creagh.

Kaye Mathew at Northcote Manor said: "We are very proud.

"He has shown great potential and we think he will do extremely well."

The scholarship was set up in memory of the late Robbie Millar, a leading chef and restaurateur, who died in a car accident in 2005.

It calls on the best young culinary talent across the UK and Ireland, offering a series of life-changing prizes and experiences for the winners.

Robbie's wife Shirley presented Michael with his prize and extended her congratulations: "Robbie was dedicated to seeing young talent develop and felt it was only fair that they should be given the chance to demonstrate their ability and realise their potential.

"The finalists in this competition are among the very best in the UK and Ireland.

"I hope they carry the experience and ethos of this scholarship throughout their promising careers."

Tom Parker, 18, from Fence, also took part in the competition.

He gained high results and was given positive feedback from the judges.

Now in its second year, the scholarship has become a significant benchmark for young talent working or studying in the catering industry.

In 2007, Chris McClurg took the honour of becoming the first ever Robbie Millar Scholarship and has since gone on to work with some of Europe's top chefs and wine experts.