A Blackburn chef has been crowned ‘champion of champions’ on the Great British Menu (GBM) and he hopes his style of cooking has changed the way people look at  ‘vegan’ food.

Kirk Haworth’s dessert secured him the top spot of the BBC show, which aired on Friday (March 22).

Kirk said: “When my name was called it felt amazing. It feels great but overwhelming. It has been an intense week with a lot of people messaging. My emails are going crazy – but I am very grateful.

“The competition was great – but it was a lot to deal with mentally, physically and emotionally.

“People have been saying so many beautiful things on social media. I don’t think anyone has ever cried so much over a GBM winner before.

“So many people have been in touch and said I made them cry tears of joy. I think they could see how emotionally invested in this I was.”

The win was not without its hard work, with Kirk putting in more than 140 hours of practice in the 10 days before the competition. He also spent around three weeks developing his dishes.

Kirk, 36, has made history on the show by being the only plant-based chef, to both make it to the final and be named champion of champions.

He said: “The show is hard enough even when you cook using all ingredients. The fact I have won this as a plant-based chef is a bit unbelievable to some people, I think.

"I believe that anything can be done and [records] can be broken.”

Despite cooking ‘vegan’ food, Kirk said his food is “not a political movement” and wants to “create a style of cookery without [the vegan label]”. Thanks to his win, Kirk believes he has achieved this.

“The judge's comments have reflected what I have been trying to do for all of these years which is to create good food that also happens to be plant-based.”

Kirk has not always been a plant-based chef and was originally trained to cook using all ingredients. His plant-based ethos began when he was diagnosed with Lyme disease in 2016.

He discovered a diet without meat, gluten, refined sugar or dairy reduced the intensity of his symptoms.

Kirk said: “When I started this journey it was difficult. It still is but now I really think I have found a foundation of my career that I believe in.

"I was confident that I had a chance of winning right from the start. I have tasted those dishes so many times and I knew they were at a good level.

“I hope my food can be a voice for those with invisible illnesses. [My Lyme disease] was a catalyst for why I cook the way I cook now.

"Hopefully this can give people with invisible and chronic illnesses some motivation to know that they can heal and inspiration to never to give up.”

Kirk has followed in the footsteps of his dad, Nigel Haworth, who also made it to the banquet of the show in 2009 with his Lancashire hotpot.

Kirk said: “He knew months before but he was super proud of me. I also don’t think he could believe I won the show [with plant-based food].

When Nigel, who owns The Three Fishes in Mitton, won the show, it did not crown a ‘champion of champions’.

“It means I am one up on him now so he can’t say anything to me anymore,” Kirk joked.

Kirk is now focusing on opening his London-based restaurant, Plates, in June. The dishes he brought to the BBC Two show might make an appearance on the restaurant’s menu, in the future.

Kirk said: “We are focused on getting this restaurant open in June but if any other television opportunities come along I will do that too.

“I want to thank anyone who has supported me.”