Lancashire’s brightest young culinary stars had their skills put to the test at the finals of a regional competition, which aims to inspire the next generation of chefs and encourage young people to consider a career in the catering industry.
A group of 15 Year 9 pupils from Accrington Academy, Blackburn Central High School, Archbishop Temple, Carr Hill High School, Highfield Academy and Unity Academy took part in the finals of the Reg Johnson Young Chef Schools competition held in the training kitchens of Blackburn College.
The competition was organised and facilitated by Blackburn College, Blackpool & The Fylde College and Future U. Chefs Nigel Haworth and Paul Heathcote MBE were on hand to offer advice and guidance to the finalists, who competed to create a winning main course and dessert using locally sourced produce.
Parents and guardians of those taking part were invited to the college’s Scholars Restaurant to watch a live stream of the action from the kitchen.
The competition winners were Ruby Williams and Katie Weekes of Highfield Academy.
Matt Lord, Outreach Officer at Future U, said: “This kind of event is really important as it gives the young people involved an experience, they wouldn’t otherwise have the opportunity to have. It gets them interacting with experts in the field and accessing the kind of facilities they wouldn’t usually encounter through food technology lessons in school.”
Gill Piper, student experience manager at Blackburn College, said: “We ran it last year with just Blackburn College, but this year we managed to collaborate with Blackpool & The Fylde College and we had over 90 applications across the board, of which it was really difficult to choose our finalists. What we really want to do is get the word out there and it’s to raise those aspirations of people who might not have thought they could do something like this, or haven’t really thought about the future. It’s to build their confidence and resilience as well as their aspirations.”
Ruby, a Highfield Academy pupil, said: “I’m really proud because I didn’t expect to win. The most fun part was probably starting to cook and when everything came together at the end as well, presenting it.”