A MICHELIN-starred restaurant chef has beaten off stiff competition to be crowned winner of a professional cooking contest.

Ben Champkin, chef de partie at Cartmel's acclaimed L'Enclume, was named Kikkoman Masters 2015 champion after a 90-minute challenge under the watchful eyes of a celebrated judging panel and 100 spectators.

One of eight finalists, the 22-year-old won the coveted title and the prize of a seven day working trip to Japan after impressing the judges with a starter of Penny Bridge Dexter beef, oysters, soy and sea herbs followed by a main of Cornish monkfish, miso, radish, turnips and hen of the woods.

“I feel fantastic and really enjoyed taking part," said Ben, who has worked for Simon Rogan in Cartmel for a year. "The other seven finalists had very good dishes so I knew it was going to be tough.

"I was pleased with my dishes and thrilled to win the title.

"A trip to Japan is a lifetime opportunity and a chance to learn more about the wonderful Japanese culture and cuisine."

Speaking at The Restaurant Show in London's Olympia, Michelin-starred chef Simon Hulstone and chair of the six-strong panel of judges said: “Ben’s dishes looked and tasted absolutely stunning and showed good innovative use of soy sauce.

"Each dish had to use Kikkoman Naturally Brewed Soy Sauce, the world’s best-selling soy sauce, as an integral part of the recipe."

The other celebrated names on the panel were Brian Turner, CBE, Scott Hallsworth, of Kurobuta, Stefan Chomka, editor of Restaurant Magazine, David Mulcahy, Craft Guild of Chefs vice president, and Mr Bing-yu Lee, Kikkoman UK manager.

Chef of five years Ben is no stranger to competitions and won Young Chef of the Year in 2013.

He also competed in the Culinary World Cup team in 2014.

Kikkoman UK manager, Bing-yu Lee said: "The Kikkoman Masters gives innovative chefs the opportunity to showcase their creativity and skill and at the same time experience the quality, taste and versatility of Kikkoman Naturally Brewed Soy Sauce. The standard of entries was exceptionally high and Ben is a worthy winner.