Did you dazzle your family with your home-made sausage rolls or Christmas cake this year? Does the true cooking talent in your home belong to the teenager?
Now in its third year, the Young Chef of the Year competition is a terrific opportunity for our local teens to show their cooking skills and experience cooking in a professional environment. The final will be held on Saturday 7th February (10am to 2pm) in the new cooking school at Oaklands college, which was recently converted from a beautiful stable block. The competition is open to students in years 9, 10 and 11 from any local school and is free to enter.
You will need to decide whether to cook a starter, a main course or a pud, and then fill in a form showing your ingredients, recipe and cooking method. If you like, send a photo of your dish too. Shortlisted entries (10 in each category) will be invited along on the day to cook the recipe from scratch. There will be three judges on the day: me, Andrei Lussmann, owner of Lussmanns restaurant, and Johnny Shepherd, owner of The Pudding Stop. While the finalists cook their dishes (with the Oaklands tutors on hand for any last minute technical glitches), the judges will keep an eye on how it is all going, in true MasterChef style. Closing date for entries is January 30th (for a form go to http://www.oaklands.ac.uk or email
firstname.lastname@example.org. T: 01727 737000).
The competition has moved from the autumn to allow schools more time to organise their entries which I think will mean even higher standards.
Last year was an excellent competition and it was great fun helping to judge the dishes. While anxious young chefs and parents waited outside in the courtyard, we sampled every dish. I was delighted to see inventive use of seasonal and British ingredients and the eventual winner in the starter section, Sam Bailey, used local goats cheese with apples and walnuts. Past winner of the pud section Mollie Swain so impressed with her lemon meringue tartlet pastry that she went on to work at The Pudding Stop! The main course was won by Emily Rigby for a perfect salmon quiche, showing that sometimes something simple, if cooked beautifully, can win. Every finalist wins a certificate and the winner in each category wins £100!
If you would like to show us what you can do, then there is still time to enter. I look forward to tasting everything in February!