THIRTY-THREE years ago this week 26-year-old Alexander Lyon was on top of Hartlepool’s culinary world.
He had just been awarded the title of the Hartlepool Mail’s very first King of the Kitchen.
The consultant engineer, from the town’s Loyalty Crescent, cooked his way to the title with Lasagne Bolognese.
Besides the honour and a kiss for the camera from Molly White, manager of Hartlepool Gas Showrooms, and the Mail’s Margaret O’Rourke, Alexander also won a gas fridge freezer.
Margaret wrote that the award had initially left him speechless and went on: “Minutes after he heard compere Dave Bowling announce him as the winner Alexander finally found words.
“I can’t believe it. It’s incredible that I’ve won.”
According to Margaret, it was a night to remember.
“A night when six men stepped from the privacy of their kitchens and faced an audience at the town’s Grand Hotel to cook the dishes which had won them a place in the finals of the Mail’s first search to find the king of cooks in this area.”
The contest was judged by Audrey Hughes, of Northern Gas, acting editor of the Mail Alan Cousins and head chef of the Grand Hotel Phillip Borthwick.
An enthusiastic audience were particularly impressed, said Margaret, by compere Dave Bowling, moonlighting from his day job at the DHSS (Department of Health and Social Security).
“He joked, laughed and jollied the guests through a night which was a joy for all.”
While the judges deliberated over the dishes prepared by finalists, who also included Iain Gault, Tony Kramer, Denis Lindridge and Derek Hall, the audience enjoyed food tasting by RHM and glasses of by Grants of St James.
Then the big moment: “Cheers, applause and a startled Alexander, still trying to absorb the news, was brought forward.”
Maragaret concluded it was “a golden evening which has just got to be repeated”.
Were there further Kings of the Kitchen crowned in future years?
Contact Andrew Levett by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or write to him at Hartlepool Mail, New Clarence House, Wesley Square, Hartlepool, TS24 8BX.