TWO Cumbrian chefs are in the running to be crowned champion of a high pressure BBC cooking competition.

Ryan Blackburn and Matt Campbell, both Kendal residents, are being put through their paces in MasterChef: The Professionals.

Following the first 'Knockout Week' battle, aired on Tuesday (December 5), both of the chefs have secured places in the final 10.

Ryan, who is the owner and chef at the Old Stamp House restaurant in Ambleside, said that he 'underestimated' the whole experience.

"I have no idea why I applied," he said. "I had only ever watched one episode of the whole of the series and I thought that it looked exciting and I would not mind having a go at it.

"You cannot compare it to cooking in the restaurant. It really caught me out. I was underprepared and I underestimated the whole thing."

Despite a shaky quarter-final, Ryan received high praise on Tuesday night with Gregg Wallace declaring his braised pork cheek dish as 'fantastic'.

"I think the dish as a whole is just wonderful to eat," said chef and judge Monica Galetti.

The 37-year-old said that it was an 'exciting' but hugely demanding experience and it taught him a lot about himself.

"As a chef you get talked to about the TV side of things quite a bit," he said. "I was wondering if I would enjoy it and I realised I just wanted to be back in Cumbria!"

And Matt Campbell, a talented private chef, is also battling it out for the top spot and has so far made a great impression with the firm but fair judges.

Judge and acclaimed chef Marcus Wareing deemed Matt's plate of cod cheeks to be the 'best' signature dish he had ever eaten in Masterchef.

He has described his cooking style as 'nutritionally minded gastronomic food', focusing on health as well as flavour.

In Tuesday night's episode, Marcus Wareing heaped the praise on Matt's mackerel dish, which was served with an innovative squid ink cracker.

"I think your presentation is absolutely outstanding," he said.

"I think it's forward thinking and I think it's modern."

The competition continued last night (December 6) and airs again tonight (December 7) at 8pm. Eight of the chefs will be chosen to go through to the semi-final of the competition.