Tom Hamblet from West Sussex has won this year's Springboard FutureChef 2015 competition.
Hamblet, aged 15 and of Tanbridge House school, was today crowned the winner after beating 11 other regional finalists to the title at today's national final, held at London's Westminster Kingsway college.
He cooked a menu of poached sole fillet with dill and spinach stuffing, with purple sprouting turned potatoes and fish cream foam; and a dessert of vanilla cake with raspberry sorbet, bitter chocolate ganache and caramel nut clusters.
Upon finding out he had won, Hamblet said: "I am so excited that I won. I can't believe this has happened to me, and I am privileged to be in this position right now."
Hamblet has won a behind-the-scenes visit to the Henley Regatta, where he will work with top chefs, plus a boat trip on the Thames for his parents, who will then return to join their son in an afternoon of Henley hospitality courtesy of Sodexo.
Judges included David Mulcahy, culinary director, Sodexo UK and Ireland, and vice -resident of the Craft Guild of Chefs, as head judge; Steve Munkley, executive chef, the Royal Garden Hotel; Adam Degg, head pastry chef, Chiltern Firehouse; Adam Handling, executive chef, Adam Handling at Caxton; and Hayden Groves, executive chef, BaxterStorey. Last year's winner, Anna Carmichael, also judged.
Second place went to 15-year-old Jai Parsons from Castlebrae Community High in Edinburgh, who won a work placement in the Delaware North VIP area alongside the executive chef for hospitality, Mark Reynolds; a back-of-house tour of Wembley stadium; plus an invitation for four to the Delaware North box at Wembley, for the Summertime Ball 2015.
Third prize went to Ciaran Liddy from Rathmore Grammar School, Belfast. He and his mentor, John Paul Leake, will now have the chance to produce a fine-dining banquet for 100 VIP guests, as part of a celebrity dinner with Elior development chefs.
The finalists beat more than 8,000 contestants to the contest, after a series of school, local, and regional heats, eventually divided into regions such as Central and South Scotland, North East, East of England, North West, South East, London, and Northern Ireland.
All 12 final competitors won prizes including £100 cash from the Worshipful Company of Cooks, commemorative plates from Steelite International, commemorative medals supplied by the Craft Guild of Chefs, and the cookery book by chef Brian Turner, A Taste of Summer. Other sponsors included Bunzl Lockhart, Tonstate, Russums, and Johnsons Stalbridge Linen.
Springboard chief executive Anne Pierce said: "Congratulations to all of our hard working, committed finalists. It really is amazing to see the quality of work by young chefs improve year on yearâ¦ Tom is a true winner."
Springboard FutureChef chairman chef Brian Turner, said that Hamblet was a "great winner". He added: "It has been a fantastic day and it's good to see so many dedicated young people with so much talent. Thanks must also go to teachers and mentors who make such a great contribution to the success of the event."
Now in its 15th year, FutureChef is an annual initiative, delivered in more than 500 schools nationwide, to help promote the importance of cooking skills, good nutrition, and the potential of a career within hospitality, to people aged 12-16. As well as the competition, it organises classes, workshops and school visits from professional ambassadors across the industry.
Previous winners have included Kerry Johansen (2010, now at the Aloft hotel, Liverpool); Luke Thomas (2009, chef patron, Luke's Kitchen); and Alex Wilson (2005, assistant manager, Tylney Hall hotel).
First founded 25 years ago, Springboard helps the young, unemployed and disadvantaged to improve their lives via a career in hospitality, leisure or tourism. It helps to arrange work experience opportunities, deliver training programmes, and provide educational resources to those who need them.
FULL LIST OF FINALISTS BY REGION
- Central and South Scotland - Jai Parsons, 15, Castlebrae Community High School
- East Midlands - Max Faulkner, 13, Lutterworth High School
- East of England - Ashleigh Sheppard, 15, Stour Valley Community School
- North East - Ashleigh Hellowell, 15, the Maltings College
- Northern Ireland - Ciaran Liddy, 14, Rathmore Grammar School
- South West - Anna West, 13, Penair School
- Wales - Siriol Richards, 16, Ysgol Brodinefwr
- West Midlands - Carl Ridsdale, 16, South Bromsgrove High School
- North West - Joseph Kelly, 13, William Howard School
- North Scotland - Hannah Hunter, 16, Ardnamurchan High School
- London - Georgia Morgan, 16, Abbey Manor College
- South East - Tom Hamblet, 15 - Tanbridge House School
FULL LIST OF JUDGES
- David Mulcahy, culinary Director, Sodexo UK and Ireland, head judge
- Steve Munkley, executive chef, The Royal Garden Hotel
- Matt Owens, executive pastry chef, Fusion Catering Solutions
- Adam Degg, head pastry chef, Chiltern Firehouse
- Simon Stocker, advanced practitioner, Westminster Kingsway College
- Joe Queen, executive chef, Tennents Training Academy
- Richard Davis, executive chef, the Manor House
- Adam Handling, executive chef, Adam Handling at Caxton
- Hayden Groves, executive chef, BaxterStorey
- Anna Carmichael, FutureChef winner 2014