Every day, Andrew Forster toiled in the restaurant kitchen to produce delicious dishes - chicken with a mango salad, skewered king prawns, handmade pasta and pizza, and all manner of tempting concoctions.

Yet the talented chef never tasted the results of his labours... because he suffered from a food phobia.

Instead, he claims that for around 25 years he survived on biscuits, mostly Blue Riband, Club and rich tea.

"I used to get through two packets of biscuits a day," 27-year-old Mr Forster said yesterday.

©North News
Cookie monster: For the last 25 years, chef Andrew Forster has had a diet of mainly biscuits

"When I was 18 months old, I stopped eating. Experts advised my mum to starve me as I'd eventually eat but the only thing I'd want was biscuits.

"Just the thought of eating different foods would make me anxious and I'd start to feel sick."

Bizarrely, his biscuit addiction failed to damp his desire to become a chef and he is now in charge of the kitchen at the Sale Pepe Italian restaurant in Shotley Bridge, County Durham.

He had no choice but to rely on the verdict of his staff before sending dishes out to the customers.

Unable to enjoy his creations, he settled instead for a diet of sweet snacks and his favourite, Tunnock's Caramel Wafers.

His problems came to a head when his 24-year-old girlfriend Caroline Lister wrote to food experts about his selective diet.

With a daily intake largely made up of biscuits, plus the odd piece of toast, packet of crisps or bowl of cereal, he was missing out on nutrients.

He said: "Along with the health issues, my diet was affecting every aspect of life, including socialising and work.

"I'm a theory chef so I know what foods go together but would always get someone else in the kitchen to taste what I'd created. I'd think, 'That smells delicious' - but the thought of tasting it would make me feel sick.

"I always thought deep down it was psychological and that I was the only person in the world that had it."

Andrew's biscuit cravings led to him featuring on BBC3 TV show Freaky Eaters.

With the help of a psychologist and nutritionist, he is now trying other foods and biscuits are now solely a treat. "It's fantastic to be able to taste good food for once," he said.