'I cried for a week': Hoxton chef Kirk Haworth on Great British Menu exit

Kirk Haworth, a north east contestant in the Great British Menu

Kirk Haworth, a north east contestant in the Great British Menu - Credit: BBC/ Optomen

Despite being knocked out of the regional heats of the Great British Menu, Hoxton chef Kirk Haworth has vowed to be the best vegan chef in the world.

Kirk, who is the first plant-based chef to compete on the BBC2 programme, "cried for a week" after he failed to get through the north east regional heats of the fine dining competition, which aired last week.

The co-founder of the Hoxton vegan restaurant and events company Plates London in Kingsland Road made it through to the final two of four contestants, but was beaten by Daniel McGeorge.

"I didn't do as well as I should have done," Kirk told the Gazette.

"I didn't stay calm. I cried for a week when I was eliminated. 

"But I've got to be proud of my achievements." 

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He added: "I want to be the best plant-based chef in the world. I want to keep pushing the boundaries and I hope I've opened the door for many other plant-based chefs who feel they can't go on the show because they think it has to be a fish-based or meat-based course."

Everything that chefs use in their menus must be grown in the UK and supplied from their region.

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"It's so much harder to cook a plant-based meal, because from a creative aspect you are so restricted on ingredients," said Kirk.

"You can't use butter or a beautiful piece of fish or meat that is the centrepiece of your dish that's incredible already. It takes a lot more thought to get the flavour to veg.

"We had to design our menus in November, and the season is dark at that time. There aren't many bright vegetables. It's only cabbages, potato and some beetroot. There's a lot of thought process that goes into it."

It's been a "five year journey of resilience" for Kirk since he contracted Lyme disease, which led him to adopt a vegan diet. It has helped him control the symptoms of the debilitating incurable disease, which causes chronic pain and brain and memory loss.

"I'm not exaggerating some days I didn't want to live it was that bad, and cooking is one thing that kept me mentally positive. It's my passion and it's been my life since I was 14," said Kirk.

"Now veganism is a talked about thing and it's seen as trendy but when I stated six years ago it was a lonely place to be. I was called all sorts of names." 

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