The Rotary Club of Maidenhead Bridge hosted the Thames Valley finals of the Rotary Young Chef competition at Claires Court last weekend. Seven budding young cooks were asked to design and prepare three courses for a panel of judges. The competition is part of a nationwide search for the best young chef in Britain & Ireland and is sponsored by Rotary Clubs around the country.
Participants were chosen from schools around the Thames Valley region through local heats, and were then asked to prepare a three course meal for a budget of £15. Marks were awarded for costing, planning, the range of skills displayed, as well as the taste and presentation of the courses. The candidates presented their menus and courses to a panel of three judges, including two professional chefs.
Judge and Maidenhead Bridge Rotarian, Elisa-Jade Gratton, said “The standard of food far surpassed our expectations, and the competitors conducted themselves with a professionalism beyond their years. The industry is facing difficulties sourcing new talent, so seeing young people with such passion for food is really encouraging.”
Claires Court became involved having initially enquired about taking part in the competition, but later volunteered their facilities as a venue for the district final. Paul Bevis, headteacher of Claires Court Girls and Sixth Form said, “We were delighted to host this round of the Rotary Young Chef competition. It is vital to keep children and young people engaged with food and with cooking. Rotary's Young Chef competition encourages those with a passion for food to express their ideas and creativity and that was certainly on show here today.”
The winner of the Thames Valley final was Harry Hutchins from Hungerford, sponsored by the Rotary Club of Thatcham who prepared a squid starter, followed by salmon and wild rice, finishing with a pear poached in spiced red wine. Harry, and the runner up Elizabeth Vila Creus from Northwood, will now progress through to a regional final for the south east of England.
The District Young Chef Competition is just one of the many local youth based activities carried out by the Rotary Club of Maidenhead Bridge, alongside a free Easter family fun day in Grenfell Park.
The Maidenhead Zombie Walk and Ball in October was hugely successful, so much so the organisers handed over
£1000 to local charity Number 22 Counselling Services on Sunday.
The not-for-profit event was run entirely by community based volunteers from the Rotary Club of Maidenhead Bridge, Maidenhead Live, and Maidenhead Round Table. It saw more than 200 zombies, with their clothes ripped and blood dripping from their rotting faces, limp and groan their way to the Town Hall through the Nicholsons Centre!
Shula Tajima, from Number 22 Counselling, joined members of Maidenhead Bridge Rotary Club and Vicky Lunt, Chief Zombie, at their club meeting to tell them more about how the money they raised would be used.
The charity, which has been running for 40 years, supports many local people by providing free counselling services. Since the charity was formed they have supported more than 18,000 people, volunteers have given up more than 70,000 hours of their time and they have worked with 318 counsellors.
Currently they have 110 counsellors that give up 6 hours of their time per week completely free of charge to support people who need their help in the Windsor, Maidenhead and Slough areas.
Shula spoke with passion and thanked the club and Zombie Team, commenting “this money is going to make such a difference to us. A thousand pounds doesn’t seem much but to us that can support the work of 10 counsellors for a whole year; as well as enable us to train new counsellors so we can increase our services!”
Victoria Williams, President at Maidenhead Bridge Rotary Club member, commented “we are thrilled to be involved in this unique, quirky and fabulously fun event for the whole family. To be able to support such a great charity in Number 22 Counselling is amazing as they provide such incredibly important services in Maidenhead and the surrounding areas.”
Vicky Lunt, Zombie Walk organiser commented "'it was such a pleasure to meet Shula and hear about all the great counselling help Number 22 have been able to provide to young people in the area. It's amazing to think that thanks to the people who attended and helped put on the zombie walk last year, we've been able to help this great charity to support people this coming year!"
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