School pupils showed off their culinary skills when they battled it out in the FutureChef competition at New College Stamford.
Youngsters from a number of schools prepared and then cooked two course meals in the annual Springboard competition, which was hosted by the college’s Hospitality and Catering department.
Former college student Shaun Mason, who has worked for world-renowned chef Rick Stein and at Buckingham Palace – where he catered for Will and Kate’s wedding and for President Obama – was there to watch and guide the students, while a panel of three judges did the scoring.
Schools taking part included Queen Elizabeth’s School, John Spendluffe Technology College, The Deepings School, Catmose College, The Priory Academy LLST and Sir Robert Pattinson.
The 12 pupils were battling it out to win a place in the regional final in the hope of then making it to the national final in spring of next year. They were each given 90 minutes and a budget of £7 to prepare a main course and dessert for two people.
They produced an array of dishes including fish, chicken wrapped in bacon and tacos and a selection of scrumptious puddings.
Imogen Mould from Catmose College, Oakham, and Katie Choi, from The Priory Academy in Lincoln, were both selected to go through to the regional final.
Judge and college catering tutor Philip Matthews said he was very impressed with the pupils, so much so that it was difficult to pick winners.
“We have been involved in the Springboard competition for a number of years and I’m always very heartened by the standard of the cooking,” he said.
“This year was no exception. We could see the tremendous effort the pupils had put in, not only in their cooking but in their menu choices and presentation too.
“It’s wonderful to see the enthusiasm of young people. They all did so well, but I think our winners on the day just had the edge.”
Katie’s menu was pan-fried chicken with roasted new potatoes, parsnip puree, baby carrots and salsa verde, followed by a chocolate and raspberry torte with raspberry coulis.
Her Food Technology teacher, Daniel Goffe, said: “Katie rose to the challenge of cooking in an industrial-style kitchen, much different from what she is used to. She managed to hold her nerve, executing her dishes superbly. She did really well. We are very proud of her.
“In the next, regional round, she has been assigned a mentor, Michelin Star Head Chef Aaron Patterson from Hambleton Hall, whom has a wealth of knowledge and experience to tap into. It’s a great opportunity for her.”
Springboard’s FutureChef is a nationwide initiative that helps young people aged between 12 and 16 to cook their way through a series of challenges.
For more information about courses at New College Stamford, call 01780 484300 or go to www.stamford.ac.uk