From cooking for Sunderland footballers to preparing meals for culture vultures

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A CHEF more used to cooking for footballers than culture vultures is preparing to take on a new challenge.

Patrick Lesca is executive head chef at Sunderland AFC, as well as heading up the kitchen at the Academy of Light.

Now the flamboyant Frenchman will also be responsible for running the new brasserie and catering operation at the National Glass Centre when it reopens next month.

Patrick will oversee the restaurant following the venue’s £2.2million refit.

The chef’s passion for food began as a child, and with a cordon bleu chef for a mother, it’s easy to see why.

Deciding to follow in his mother’s footsteps, Patrick pursued a career in catering, training in his native France before first moving to the UK in 1979, where he honed his skills in a kitchen in York. After a brief stint back in France, he returned to the UK in the 80s.

Patrick joined the team at the Stadium of Light 14 years ago.

He said, “It’s amazing to see how much it’s grown in the time I’ve been here, particularly in the conference and events sector.

“I worked at a hotel before landing the job here, and I remember thinking on my first football match – what have I done?”

The chef is now gearing up for a new challenge as work on the Glass Centre nears completion. He added: “I’m relishing the new opportunity that the contract with National Glass Centre presents, and I’m busy putting the finishing touches to the menus which will be on offer there”

The menu will include a signature dish chosen as part of a competition being run by the Echo.

Wearsiders are being challenged to create a dish which encapsulates either the heritage/location or uniqueness of the National Glass Centre that can be used on the daily menu.

The winning entry will appear on the Brasserie menu for the first season of opening, and the winner will enjoy a three-course meal for two at the Brasserie, as well as receiving a bespoke piece of glass from the Centre’s studio range.

The entries will be judged by Patrick himself, who will take time out of his busy schedule to cast his expert eye over the culinary efforts of Echo readers.

He said: “My job isn’t difficult, but it’s always challenging. We also look after all the food at the Academy of Light too, and there again we have to make sure the choices are right for professional footballers.”

The Sunderland Echo Signature Dish competition is free to enter, open to all ages and restricted to one entry per person.

The closing date is May 20. The winner will be contacted by telephone or email and announced during the reopening of National Glass Centre in the week commencing June 24.

Entrants should email their recipe to sigdish@sunderland.ac.uk with a brief description informing the judges why they feel their dish should be chosen.