NORTH Devon has already proved it has the right pedigree when it comes to producing top quality chefs. But now, a popular BBC 2 television series is throwing down the gauntlet to the region to see if it can come up with a hat-trick of wins when hit show T

NORTH Devon has already proved it has the right pedigree when it comes to producing top quality chefs. But now, a popular BBC 2 television series is throwing down the gauntlet to the region to see if it can come up with a hat-trick of wins when hit show The Restaurant returns to our screens for a third run this year.Producers are on the look-out for couples who are keen to take part in this year's programme and emulate the success of previous 2007 winners, Jane and Jeremy Hooper from Chivenor, and last October's triumphant Woolacombe couple, Russell and Michele Clement.Nine couples will battle it out for a once in a lifetime opportunity to open a restaurant with world-renowned chef Raymond Blanc. Producers want to hear from any couples - married, friends, siblings, relatives, partners or colleagues - who think they too could run a restaurant. Experience of a catering environment isn't necessary but whether you're a chef or a cleaner, a waiter or writer, Raymond wants to hear from people who are passionate about food and the dining experience. While opportunity is definitely knocking for this year's crop of wannabe restaurant owners, last year's winners are on the verge of realising the dream of running their own restaurant.Russell and Michele, who now live in Essex, are currently preparing for the imminent opening of their restaurant with Raymond. "Working with Raymond is a dream come true; we're learning so much every day," said Michele, who works the front of house."Russell and I love meeting up with him to discuss ideas and our future; his creative input is so important to us. We still can't believe our luck."Chef Russell added: "We would recommend anyone with a passion for food to apply because we never dreamt we would actually win."It was tough at times but now we're incredibly happy and I love going to work every day."As for 2007 winners Jane and Jeremy, BBC spokesperson Lee Smithurst told the Gazette that Jane has just had a baby and was currently enjoying motherhood."For anyone who can cook or is a great host who has ever been told they should run a restaurant, this is an opportunity to take a giant step closer to realising that dream," said Mr Smithurst.For more information, visit the website at www.bbc.co.uk/ restaurant, or for an application form, email therestaurant @bbc.co.uk or telephone 03700 104 515. Deadline for applications is March 31.