A former Masterchef contestant has created a new restaurant in part of a Morecambe pub.
Chef Ben Vandenbrink, 32, opened 18 Degrees North upstairs at The Palatine earlier this year, vowing to give people “something they can’t get anywhere else in Morecambe”.
The father-of-two has worked in the hospitality industry for 18 years, with a stint in London, before coming to Lancaster when his then girlfriend attended Lancaster University.
He worked at The Gatehouse “in its heyday”, The Water Witch, and then as sous chef at The Sun Hotel, before becoming head chef at The Water Witch in 2014.
He first applied for Masterchef in 2014 and got to the interview stage, but it was not until 2017 when he appeared on the popular BBC cooking show where he and other contestants were asked to cook “brocolli three ways”.
Ben said: “I’ve worked in hospitality since I was 13, and have worked my way up through the ranks.
“In 2017 I set up my own company which involved going to restaurants up and down the country giving them advice, teaching best practice, building teams and making sure the food was the best it could be.
“Four months ago I was approached by Bru, the landlord at The Palatine, where I did my back story for Masterchef, and it kind of just grew from there.
“The space has 24 seats, it’s very cosy, very intimate, and has both a contemporary and vintage feel to it.
“Table 11 is in the window and it points 18 Degrees magnetic north, hence the name of the business.
“There are Nordic influences in my food in terms of simple use of products, even down to writing the menu, you always know that the plate of food you get in front of you isn’t quite what you think it’s going to be.
“We don’t buy anything in and everything is cooked fresh. I want to change the food scene here in Morecambe.
“I have a monthly supper club, with seven courses marketed at a price that can be afforded, and I want to be able to provide a platform for aspiring chefs.
“I want it to be somewhere that the residents of Morecambe can come and feel at home and feel that they’re getting something that they can’t get anywhere else in the town.”