The Springboard FutureChef regional heats for the South East and London took place at West London College today, 29 November. Two-person teams from four schools in Years 9-11 competed, with just one hour to cook a savoury main course for less than £5. Three top professional chefs, from British Airways, King’s College London and Intercontinental Hotels Group, observed the preparation and tasted the 8 dishes.
The chef judges explained that in selecting the winner, they were looking for ‘the basics’ in awarding marks, “How the food is prepared, and what it tastes like. We’re less concerned with presentation at this stage,” said BA Chef Alex Standen.
The competitors used industry-standard equipment in one West London College’s commercial kitchens.
The four schools who competed were Grey Court in Richmond, Gordon’s in Woking, St Philomena’s in Carshalton and Sandhurst in Berkshire.
The joint winners who will go through to the next round in February were Marlea Joseph and Ellen Toye of St Philomena’s ,and Henri Deane and Rosie Meaney of Gordon’s School.
Marlea cooked Bakso, which are Indonesian vegetarian ‘meatballs’ made of carrots with rice, pak choi and a fried egg. Marlea described winning as “Wonderful!”
Ellen prepared spinach ricotta ravioli with pine nuts, garlic, nutmeg and olive oil. Ellen said: “This really gives me a lot more confidence, as it shows that something I love doing, I can do to a high standard.”
Rosie made deep-fried mackerel with chips tartare sauce and mushy peas. Rosie said she was “happy and excited” to have won.
Henri created an open lasagne topped with a parmesan crisp. He said he was “shocked and excited”.
Chef Graeme Collie said especially to the four students who had not won: “We chefs put our hearts on our plates when we cook, so don’t give up or feel deflated. It was close and you are all very good. Be resilient and keep going.”
Event organiser Volker Nissen from Springboard said events like FutureChef are vital as: “They help to create the next generation of chefs coming through to hotels and restaurants.
Rosie, Henri, Marlea and Ellen will be assigned chef mentors by Springboard for the next round, as well as have the opportunity to network with leading chefs.
The FutureChef final takes place in London in March.