Ten talented young students, aged 12–16, demonstrated their culinary skills in a prestigious competition held at Crawley College last week.
They saw off competition from more than 13,000 other entrants over the two preliminary stages to reach the Springboard FutureChef Regional Finals, hosted by Crawley College on Thursday 14 February.
The students were asked to prepare and cook a two-course meal under the watchful eyes of three professional chefs who were the judges for the competition.
Dishes included a caramelised plum tarte tatin, Chinese pork dumplings, succulent duck breast with dauphinoise potatoes and ‘grandma’s ballotine of plaice’.
After tense deliberations, the judges crowned Maisie Speller from Notley High School as the winner, meaning she will go on to compete at the National Finals in Westminster.
Omkar Mestry, one of the judges and Executive Head Chef at Hilton Hotel, said to the students: “Every single one of you should be proud. You have all shown a genuine passion for cooking and I would have all of you working in my restaurant.”
For many of the students, cooking in a professional training kitchen was a new experience.
One student, Thomas Hunt, said: “I never thought I’d get the opportunity to cook in a professional kitchen like this one! The whole experience has been amazing.”
The organisers of the competition, Springboard FutureChef, provide opportunities for young people to explore food and develop their culinary skills.
Beyond the excitement of a prestigious national competition, the contest also highlights the possibilities of a future career in the hospitality sector.
Crawley College offers a range of hospitality and catering courses, including Apprenticeships, to help people of all ages pursue their passion for cooking.