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A taste of future talent at Young Chef competitions

A group of youngsters from Mansfield brought their talent and taste to the kitchens at West Nottinghamshire College last week for the annual Mansfield Rotary Club’s Young Chef competition.

Held in the college’s Relish brasserie’s professional kitchens on Thursday (28 November), the eight students, aged from 12 up to 17-years-old, were challenged to produce a three-course meal from preparation to serving – in just two hours.

The competition, which has been running for over twenty years, is organised by Mansfield Rotary Club’s Youth Services Team. It is held over four stages – local competitions are followed by district competitions which then move to regional and finally the nationals which will be held in March 2020.

Competitors were Noah Bator and Ruby Stonier from All Saints’ Catholic Academy, Katie Holehouse and Corey Townsend from Queen Elizabeth’s Academy, Abi Wright from Manor Academy, Euan Waugh from Brunts Academy and the college’s own Level 1 Hospitality and Catering students Samantha Lunn and Jordan Rowley.

The competition rules stated each student had to plan out the three-course meal, prepare all ingredients, put together a work schedule and then purchase all ingredients up to a maximum of £20. On the night they each had two hours to create their meals and in the last 45 minutes, they were asked to serve the starter, then the main and then desert – to show their timing and planning skills.

Judges were chef tutor Neil Wilson from West Nottinghamshire College and Mansfield Rotarian Henry Thomas.

Ruby Stonier, 12, from All Saints’ Catholic Academy was awarded first place earning her a £25 prize, a certificate and a place in the district competition. Her dishes of cooked garlic and herb tortilla chips and salsa and guacamole won over the judges’ tastebuds, as did the main course of chilli curry with rice followed by strawberry and white chocolate cheesecake.

Ruby said:

“I’ve been doing lots of practice before the competition and I really enjoy cookery as a hobby. It’s been a great experience and I’m looking forward to competing in the next round.”

Second place went to Euan Waugh, from the Brunts Academy. He impressed judges with a starter of puff pastry and mozzarella, basil pesto and tomatoes. Main course was chicken katsu curry and rice. His pudding choice was chocolate fondant with raspberries and cream.

Euan said:

“I developed a love of catering a few months ago, but I’ve always liked baking with my mum. I’m hoping to do cookery next year in my options.”

Katie Holehouse of Queen Elizabeth’s Academy came third with her tasty trio of French onion soup, then Sirloin steak with parsnips, potatoes and peppercorn sauce, and a pudding featuring spiced carrot and orange cake.

Katie said:

“I’ve always enjoyed being in the kitchen. My sister is a fully-qualified chef who studied at West Notts College. I’ve got my heart set on becoming a chef in the RAF.”

President of the Rotary Club of Mansfield John Bilzon said:

“It’s been an amazing turnout here in the kitchens. It’s been hard work but all worthwhile when you see the standard of food that has been produced. These young people have performed so well under competition conditions and have been so calm and professional all of which is going to prepare them well for their futures.

"Our winning dishes prepared by Ruby were absolutely fabulous. She’s clearly got a gift with cookery and she put together a wonderful meal which would easily impress diners at a top restaurant. I wish Ruby all the best in the next stage of her competition.

“The Rotary Club does such a lot to help young people to succeed and challenge themselves through a variety of events throughout the year and the Young Chef competition is just one of them.”

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