The winners of BBC TV’s The Restaurant were back in town for another cookery competition, but they were not among the contestants.

Instead, the tables were turned for Russell Clement and Michele English, who have just moved from Colchester to train at top chef Raymond Blanc’s Brasserie Blanc in Bristol.

They were invited to judge the cook-off final of Colchester’s Tastiest Leftovers Competition at Colchester Institute’s centre for hospitality and food studies.

The contest, supported by the Gazette’s sister paper the Essex County Standard, is one of the borough council’s initiatives aimed at persuading residents to stop sending perfectly edible food to local rubbish dumps.

“We know what it’s like to be on the other side of a judging panel,” said Russell. “We think it makes us more sympathetic towards the contestants.”

Michele, a front-of-house specialist, has just completed a testing week in the restaurant’s kitchens, and chef Russell is about to don a waiter’s uniform to help serve customers.

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