A Tanbridge House School student received an early birthday present as he became the only person to hold two prestigious titles for young people in the hospitality industry.
Tom Hamblet, who turned 16 last Wednesday, won Springboard’s FutureChef competition in London on Monday March 23, nearly a year after he triumphed at the Rotary International in Great Britain and Ireland (RIBI) Young Chef Competition in Dundee last April.
The competition’s national final was held at Westminster Kingsway College where he served a menu of poached sole fillets, dill and spinach stuffing, purple sprouting turned potatoes and fish cream foam and a dessert of vanilla cake with raspberry sorbet, bitter chocolate ganache and caramel nut clusters.
He beat the other 11 finalists to be named the winner of a competition with more than 8,000 initial entrants between 12 and 16.
He had been working at South Lodge Hotel in Lower Beeding where his father Lewis is executive chef, and his mother Haley is a pastry chef.
Tom said: “I am so relieved I won. I tried not to let the pressure get to me but it’s impossible for it not to.
Winning was everything to me and it was my focus from the day I entered nine months agoTom Hamblet
“The decision took well over an hour so all that time I was thinking ‘what if?’. I did feel more nervous than I have ever felt before so when I heard my name being called, it seemed unreal.
“Everybody at South Lodge told me I would win so that made it even worse. All that practising three nights a week would have seemed like a waste.
“Winning was everything to me and it was my focus from the day I entered nine months ago. What I really wanted was to hold this title as well as the RIBI title because nobody has ever won both so that is my biggest ever achievement.”
The aspiring young chef won a chance to work with the top chefs at Henley Royal Regatta in Henley-on-Thames while his parents enjoy a boat trip along the River Thames.
Tanbridge will also receive vouchers to the value of £400.
Tom will finish his GCSEs this summer and said he will spend the holidays preparing for his apprenticeship starting in September at South Lodge Hotel and Westminster Kingsway College.
He said: “I’ll be doing four days at South Lodge Hotel and one day at Westminster Kingsway College.
“After that, who knows where I’ll be but I do fancy going to London then working in a top restaurant, probably Spain or Scandinavia.”
Tom can be found on Twitter at https://twitter.com/tomtheginer where he will be giving an insight to the kitchens he will work in.