Is your teenager a budding masterchef? A future Yotam, Jamie or Nigella? I am very pleased to be able to tell you about a fantastic new competition launched this year to find future cooking stars in our local community.
If you are in year 10 or 11 you can enter the Young Chef of the Year competition organised by Oaklands College, in association with the St Albans Food & Drink Festival.
You need to come up with a recipe for either a starter, main course, or pudding (or all three if you are feeling keen!). Decide on a name for your recipe, list the ingredients, and explain how to make it (a method). Ten recipes in each category will be shortlisted, and the winners will go to the Final Cook Off Competition held at Oaklands College on Saturday 6th October. I will be one of the judges, as will André Lussman, the owner of award-winning Lussmanns in St Albans, which is again in the Good Food Guide this year. Award-winning chef Mark Sharples, who has worked in Michelin-starred restaurants and is a tutor at Oaklands will also be there to help with the decision-making.
The final date for entry is Wednesday 26th September which is NEXT WEEK! So if you have a brilliant idea, email firstname.lastname@example.org. The finalists will get the chance to cook their recipe in the Oaklands professional kitchens, and the winner for each course will win £100. We will also feature all the winners and print their winning recipes in the food column of The Herts Advertiser. It is a fantastic opportunity to cook in a professional kitchen, practice your food writing, get to meet like-minded foodies, and see if you have what it takes to cook when the pressure is on!
Entries are already in from some of the local schools, some of whom have held their own competitions to decide who goes forward. I am really looking forward to reading some of the entries, and also trying the cooking! I will be delighted if some of the entries make good use of our fantastic local produce, and are seasonal. I am sure Mark and André will be looking for excellent execution, but above all, it needs to taste delicious. Winners will have just one hour to cook their course, so make sure you keep it achievable for the time you have. Good luck! If you need more info, visit http://www.oaklands.ac.uk or call 01727 737000.
I had a look at the professional kitchens at Oaklands, used by the students in hospitality and catering. The college offers up to BTEC Level 3 Diploma in Hospitality and Level 2 in Professional Cookery, and previous students have gone on to work at The Savoy, Claridges and at Jamie’s. Students have cooked for Lady Verulam, for the Institute of Directors, and at the annual College Food Festival. And a real gem – lunch is served each midweek day at the Alban Park campus, where those in the know go for amazing food cooked from fresh local ingredients. The day I popped in, the students had made rolled stuffed leg of lamb. It cost £3. Yes, you read that correctly. The students at Oaklands have also won various awards, including a first place at the Wessex salon Culinaire. It is terrific to hear of all this talent developing in our local area. I was also interested to see that there are part-time courses for Best of Baking and Introduction to Cake Decorating.
Today, Sir Terry Leahy ex-Chief Executive of Tesco is at Oaklands to welcome the new students. He is expected to deliver a speech about entrepeneurship, which shows the level that Oaklands expect its students to aspire to! Zoe Hancock, Principal of the College, commented: “It is a great honour and very exciting for the College to have Sir Terry Leahy speak to our students. He is a great example of where hard work, determination and aspiration can get you. I know that our students will find inspiration from listening to Sir Terry Leahy’s successes and how achieved his goals.” We hope this competition inspires our budding chefs to put on their aprons, and show us what the are made of!
A short while ago we ran a competition with Liz Thompson a.k.a. Queen of Herts to find a delicious cake flavour and filling, with the prize a bespoke celebration cake. Jackie Pulford was the winner with her delicious Strawberry and Champagne combination, and Charlotte Turner the runner-up with Ginger, Honey and Pear. The strawberry cupcake contained strawberry liqueur too, and we could really imagine these at a summer wedding. Well done Jackie! The winner was announced at the Queen of Herts fete last weekend, and helped to raise over £1000 for Help for Heroes and the MS Society.
caption: Jackie Pulford, with her sons Ben and Conor, Liz Thompson from Queen of Herts (centre) and MS Society volunteer Linda.