Young chefs impressed after whipping up a storm at a local competition.
Stamford High School once again hosted the annual Young Chef competition, orgnaised by the Rotary Club of Stamford. Five girls from the school took part, across three year groups: Olivia Messenger, Lucy Reilly, Abbie Walster, Zoe Bertuzzi and Alice Kirby. The first four are all currently taking food science and Alice, who is new to the school in Year 12, entered for personal challenge and enjoyment.
Entrants were required to cook a two-course meal for two, within a £10 budget and using as much local produce as possible. They had 30 minutes to prep, then an hour and a half for cooking. With around three weeks’ warning, each of the girls was able to plan and present a delicious meal.
Olivia chose her favourite main course of Thai chicken curry, with the challenge of lemon curd soufflé for dessert. Lucy decided to keep her meal as healthy as possible, cooking salmon-stuffed lemon plaice with jewelled couscous to start and apple, blackberry and oat crumble to finish. Abbie picked a family staple of white wine and chicken risotto, then white chocolate, vanilla and raspberry cheesecake which she had made successfully in a recent food science lesson.
For Zoe, main course was sea bass with pasta and pesto, and for pudding was mountain of chocolate-drizzled profiteroles.
Elsewhere, Alice tackled rice timbale and vegetarian stuffed mushrooms, followed up by summer fruit pastry stacks.
While all clearly wanted to win, they were equally encouraging of one another; offering reassurance as the start time drew nearer and being mindful of one another throughout.
The judges were chefs from RAF Wittering: Corporals Dave White and Warren Clay were highly impressed by the Stamford High School facilities and the girls themselves. They are instructors for armed services chefs and so well used to the competition environment. After an initial look at the menus, they commented that all were strong entries and were excited to see how everything turned out. Cooking began at 6pm, with all five competitors quietly focused.
Most began their desserts first, as they all needed baking time and some cooling. Despite initial worries, all five girls managed to keep track of the time and their nerves.
Everyone finished within the alloted time and the results looked incredible. Each dish was tasted and deliberated over, then the girls received their individual feedback; getting compliments on the work they had done and tips for improvement. Olivia received particular compliments for her soufflé, with its lemon flavouring and overall difficulty. Meanwhile, Alice’s presentation was beautiful and the balancing of flavours perfect. The couscous and fish from Lucy were perfectly cooked, the filling especially, and she was awarded 3rd place. Abbie got special praise for her cheesecake – which she was generous enough to share around afterwards – and came in 2nd.
Finally, 1st prize went to Zoe, whose range of skills used was immense. Her pasta was handmade – according to her the hardest part – extreme care taken over the sea bass cooking and the first comment from the judges about her profiteroles was simply “wow”.
Visitors from the Rotary Club of Stamford commented that the standard had been raised again from last year and that they were extremely happy to have attended. If this holds true, next year’s competition should be equally spectacular. All the girls can be very proud of their achievements, with the judges commenting; “Our chefs could learn a thing or two here.”