Chefs impress judges

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YOUNG chefs have produced dishes ‘that adults would find difficult to match’ for the local heats of the Rotary Young Chef of the Year Competition.

Students from Steyning Grammar School and The Towers, Upper Beeding, went head-to-head to cook a three-course meal, in two hours, costing less than £15.

The competition is divided into four stages; local, district, regional and national finals and is promoted by Rotary International in Britain and Ireland (RIBI).

The competition is open to 11 to 17-year-olds and the aims are to cook a healthy meal, develop food presentation skills, consider food hygiene issues, develop organisational and planning skills and develop the ability to cope in a demanding situation.

The contestants cooked a wide range of dishes for judges Kate Gover from Kate’s Cookhouse and Alex Tipping from The Fountain, Ashurst at the Shooting Field site.

The judges looked for exciting uses of healthy, locally produced ingredients, the presentation, taste and balance of dishes throughout the three courses.

They both said that the judging proved to be a hair-splitting exercise.

Kate said: “From my perspective, it was a thoroughly enjoyable experience, the kids were just brilliant, all demonstrated great skills and produced a diverse range of dishes.

“It was very worthwhile and it was wonderful to be part of it.”

Peter Firth and Martin Leigh-Pollitt of Steyning and Henfield Rotary Club said that many adults would find difficulty in matching the standards of cooking, imagination and presentation.

Benjamin Bower was chosen as the winner, receiving a prize of £40.

Poppy Moore took the second prize of £20 and in third place Ellie Pointer was awarded £10.

In addition, Charlie Ansell and Madeleine were both highly commended by the judges.

The winning dishes from Benjamin were all gluten free and to start he served butternutsquash soup with creme fraiche, then for main, stuffed chicken breast wrapped in parma ham with seasonal vegetables, and for dessert, a chocolate cheesecake.

Martin Leigh-Pollitt said: “Food is one of the joys of living and all the students were enthusiastic and pleased to take part with the opportunity of entering the national competition.

“The highlight of the day was the range and variety of the dishes.

“The standard of food was high throughout.”

Heads of food technology at the two schools, Samantha Rule and Sarah May, said that those taking part were fantastic, they did it entirely on their own and the dishes they produced were of a very high standard.

All those who entered received a certificate of participation and the winner, Benjamin, is invited to go into the district finals.