A 14-year-old student from the Deepings School in Peterborough, Cambridgeshire, has been named FutureChef 2013. Hayley Cancea fought off the efforts of 11 other finalists at the national final at Westminster Kingsway yesterday.
The 12 finalists earned their places in the final by cooking their way through local and regional heats held across the country. They were selected from nearly 9,000 12-16 years olds who entered the Springboard competition. The finalists were asked to prepare two restaurant-quality dishes from a selection of fresh ingredients in two hours.
Cancea's winning dishes comprised Mediterranean-style roulade of pork with a sage and onion beignet and a wild mushroom and spinach pithivier, and a dessert of dark chocolate bavarois, raspberry sorbet and pistachios.
Competition judges included Alain Roux, chef patron of the Waterside Inn, Adam Bennett, head chef from Simpsons, Birmingham, and this year's UK finalists at the Bocuse d'Or, Joe Queen of Braehead Foods and Mark Froydenlund, head chef, Marcus Wareing Restaurants. Head judge was David Mulcahy, craft and food development director at Sodexo.
On being named FutureChef 2013, Cancea said she was proud and thankful to her mentor chef, Paul Reseigh, head chef at the George of Stamford, for their support during the contest.
"The thing I have enjoyed the most about taking part in FutureChef this year is how inspiring my mentor and judges have been towards me, this experience has helped boost my confidence 100%. I would like to follow my ambition of becoming a pastry chef one day. I have learnt many skills, braising, confiting, caramelising, meat preparation, deboning meat, sugar work, how to make sorbets and ice creams. My confidence has improved and I now find myself trying new ideas and putting my own twist on things."
The winning prize includes a behind the scenes visit to Ascot and working with chefs at the venue, plus full hospitality for the winner and family at Ascot and overnight accommodation in a leading hotel.
Alongside Cancea, the other finalists were Imogen Dodd of Trinity School in the North West, Kealey Godkin of Ripley Mill Hill School in the East Midlands, Laura Ventrella of Arden Academy in the West Midlands, Connor Blades of Barlby High School in the North East, Katie Toms of Queen Elizabeth's Academy in the South West, Bronwen Jenkins of Tre-Gib School in Wales, Anna Meers of Antrim Grammar School, Northern Ireland, Eden Allsworth, HIghsted Gramma School in the South East, Senem Boyraz, the Petchey Academy, London, and Kieran Paterson of Lockerbie Academy and Betsy Pepper of Mintlaw Academy, both in Scotland. Paterson was named runner-up, while Toms was awarded the place of second runner-up.
Event host Brian Turner said: "We're very proud of what all those young people were able to achieve. FutureChef, as just one of Springboard's programmes, gives young people a real opportunity to give cooking a go. We are reaching more students every year and they, in turn are acquiring the vital life skill of learning about foods and how to cook. We encourage even more teachers and parents to work with us next year to enhance young people's learning and development."
Springboard's FutureChef is a nationwide culinary programme run by The Springboard Charity, helping young people aged 12-16 to learn to cook, explore food and develop a vital life skill. It develops culinary skills, educates about food provenance, health and safety and food hygiene and informs about entry routes to worthwhile careers in hospitality. The programme encourages the next generation of young chefs and, of course, through its four stage national competition, each year crowns one talented participant as the Springboard's FutureChef winner.
Applications for FutureChef 2014 are now open www.futurechef.uk.net.