Oaklands College lifted the lid on the next generation of aspiring chefs this weekend as it hosted the 2017 Young Chef of the Year competition.
Twenty–six aspiring young hopefuls from schools across Hertfordshire cooked their heart out in the restaurants professional kitchens to take the challenge of presenting their choice of a starter, main or dessert to face a panel of expert judges.
This year’s judges were Lussmanns Group Head Chef Nick McGeown, Head Chef at on-campus The Stables Restaurant Martin West, Hospitality and Catering tutor Mark Sharples, along with the Mayor of St Albans Cllr Frances Leonard.
After submitting entries with recipe ideas and full methodology, entrants had just one hour to rustle up their chosen dish before judges chose a winner from each category. This year saw a record number of entries to the competition, with judges blown away with the quality of dishes presented.
Taking the overall Young Chef of the Year title win was 14-year-old Sophie Lotinga from Dame Alice Owen’s School in Potters Bar, who wowed the judges with her dessert of a White Chocolate Mint Mousse.
Speaking after her win, she said: “Cooking has always been one of my passions and I’m thrilled to have won today, I can’t believe it. I am currently in Year 10 so I am not sure what I want to do after school but Art and Food Technology are my favourite subjects.
“Competitions like this are great
experience for anyone like me to get in a professional kitchen and explore their passion for food.”
Taking the category win for Starters was Ruby Dyer, aged 14, from Chancellors School in Hatfield who delivered a delicate Smoked Haddock Timbale with a Poached Quail Egg.
The award for the Mains Category went to 14-year-old Rosa-Maria Merheb, from St Michaels Catholic Grammar School with a Goan Prawn and Coconut Curry with Cumin Rice, praised for its balance of fragrant flavours.
Head Chef at The Stables Martin West said; “The quality of this year’s entries was an incredible standard – food that any professional chef would be proud to serve. This year’s entrants raised the bar in presentation, innovation and fantastic flavour. All of the finalists should all be very proud of their achievement.”
Winner Sophie took home an engraved trophy, £100 Amazon vouchers from Oaklands College, and a £50 Lussmanns voucher. She will soon up
her kitchen experience further with a days work experience at The Stables restaurant a shift of work experience at one of Lussmanns Hertfordshire restaurants.
Group Head Chef Nick McGeown said: “The competition was once again a thoroughly enjoyable day with many aspiring young cooks. I am, very happy that we at Lussmanns can continue to supporting this budding talent - some of which will become quality chefs of the future.”
Runners up Ruby and Rosa-Maria received a £50 Amazon vouchers from Oaklands College, a £20 Lussmanns voucher and a day’s work experience at the Oaklands Stables Restaurant.
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