Sixteen-year-old Pamela Black from Battersea Technical College in London has claimed the title of FutureChef 2004 with a stunning duo of dishes.
At the cook-off held at Westminster Kingsway College earlier this month, Brian Turner, chairman of FutureChef, said: "The standard this year had to be seen to be believed. Pamela showed enormous potential throughout the competition."
The competitors had an hour-and-a-half to cook two covers of a main course and dessert. The main course had to be served within the first hour of the competition.
Black's main course, quatre saisons de poulet (four seasons of chicken: poached suprˆme of chicken with an ‚tuve of creamed leeks and pak choi; confit of drumstick flavoured with rosemary and served on pumpkin and parsley pur‚e; ballotine of thigh with sage and shallot seasoning on a tian of roasted oyster mushrooms; and lightly spiced tomato, chilli and herb broth) was the perfect mixture of textures, according to Michael Caines, chairman of the judging panel.
This was followed by a tarte aux poires avec salsa de mangue, a crisp citrus and vanilla pastry filled with caramelised pears with a mango salsa and warm caramel cream.
Joining the judging panel with Caines was Peter Gordon of the Providores, London; Andrew Green and Omero Gallucci of Compass; Lucy Hyder from the Bacchanalian restaurant, Cheltenham; and Anton Mosimann.
More than 5,500 students from nearly 500 schools across the country participated in school, local and regional heats to find the best of the young chefs. Throughout the competition, organised by the Springboard Charitable Trust, the finalists worked with mentor chefs from the Craft Guild of Chefs.
Black wins a culinary trip to Luxembourg and Germany courtesy of Villeroy & Boch, a commemorative plate, and a year's subscription to both Caterer & Hotelkeeper and BBC Good Food magazines.
Runners-up in the competition were Alex Comrie, of St Columba's RC School, Dunfermline, Fife, who won a day with Gary Rhodes at his new London restaurant, Rhodes Twenty Four, including lunch and a tour of the kitchen, courtesy of Compass Group; Danielle Lofthouse, of Hazel Grove High School, Stockport, Greater Manchester, who will receive a masterclass from a celebrity chef and assist in the preparation of a banquet for 100 people, courtesy of Sodexho; and Ashley Heasman, of Mintlaw Academy, Aberdeenshire, who wins a midweek or weekend break at one of four Center Parcs UK villages.
FutureChef is aimed at 12- to 16-year-olds and was designed to foster a passion for cooking and food in young people. The competition provides a platform for participants to develop their potential and to encourage them to pursue a career in the hospitality industry.
FutureChef 2004 was supported by the Hotel and Catering Training Company, the Worshipful Company of Cooks of London, Johnson Diversey, Villeroy & Boch, Compass Group, Corus Hotels, the Craft Guild of Chefs, Sodexho, Center Parcs, Westminster Kingsway College, Taste of the West, BBC Good Food, Aramark, Caterer & Hotelkeeper and Caf‚ Spice Namaste.