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.
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