Gallery: Masterchef finalist cooks up storm

SUFFOLK'S Masterchef finalist Chris Gates cooked up a storm at the opening of a new learning centre in Suffolk.

Tom Potter

SUFFOLK'S Masterchef finalist Chris Gates cooked up a storm at the opening of a new learning centre in Suffolk.

Dozens gathered to sample his recipe at the launch of the new Learning and Enterprise Access Point (Leap) centre in Murrayside Youth and Community Centre, Nacton Road, Ipswich.

The Masterchef runner-up challenged Leap project manager Miles Cole to a cook off in the centre's state-of-the-art kitchen, part of a �65,000 transformation of the building.

Chris whipped up a dish of scallops with warm salsa and streaky bacon while Mr Cole opted for a unique dish he christened “prawn surprise”.

The 25-year-old from Halesworth impressed the judges enough to reach the final of this year's BBC competition.

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“Everything in here is fantastic,” he said. “It's a pleasure to cook with such a great set up.

“The centre will give people a head start by allowing them the opportunity to see how a kitchen operates and hopefully giving them some inspiration.

“The biggest problem with getting people to eat healthily is a lack of understanding about where products come from and how to cook with them. Here they have a chance to learn by cooking face to face with a tutor.”

As well as Chris's impromptu cookery lesson, visitors to yesterday's open day were invited to take part in drop-in sessions including lessons in parenting, Indian head massage and IT.

Job hunters, return-to-work mums and would-be students are all set to benefit from the new learning centre.

Rosalind Turner, director for children and young people at Suffolk Council, cut the ribbon to officially open the centre, which is one of a series of centres opening across Suffolk in partnership with Suffolk Learning and Skills Council, the East of England Development Agency, West Suffolk College and University Campus Suffolk (UCS), as well as other providers.

“This is a really wonderful facility which is part of a county wide brand,” she said.

“The building is already part of the community and is well used but it now has an extra dimension.

“It gives absolutely anybody the chance to develop skills and get jobs for the future.

“They may not have previously felt comfortable walking through the doors of Suffolk College or UCS. Here they can embark on anything from a basic literacy course to a master's degree.”

For more details on community learning and skills development courses on offer at Murrayside and across Suffolk, call 0845 6037197.