Unaisa Hussein was named Young Pastry Chef of the Year 2021 at the Chefs' Forum competition held this week.
The pâtisserie and confectionary diploma level 3 student from Leicester College competed in the final at West London College in Hammersmith on Tuesday. Judges included Jamie Houghton of Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons and president of the UK pastry team; Luke Frost of Valrhona; Chris Underwood of the Belmond Cadogan hotel; Thibault Hauchard of Alain Ducasse at the Dorchester; Michael Kwan of Hotel Café Royal; and Daniel Pearse of the Savoy London.
The eight finalists were required to produce an entremet of at least four layers, using a chocolate from a five-strong range selected and supplied by Valrhona.
Hussein's winning tropical entremet incorporated Valrhona white Opalys chocolate, passion fruit, mango and coconut.
Commenting on her win, 17-year-old Hussein said: "This is the first competition I have ever entered and to win it is absolutely incredible. It has been an honour to be a part of this competition, especially being a finalist. It was a difficult challenge as all the other finalists were brilliant and produced some spectacular entremets despite tough conditions; to have won against such strong competitors feels really special. I'm also extremely happy to receive a KitchenAid stand mixer from Mitchell & Cooper, as I have always wanted one and can't wait to start using it!"
Hussein's lecturer Dan Murphy added: "This is a fantastic achievement and I am so very proud of Unaisa. It was great to share her success with her family, who came with us today.
"The competition was inspirational, well-organised and a wonderful experience for all involved. It was great to visit West London College and meet students and teaching peers from other colleges – I am really excited for Unaisa and the world-class culinary journey ahead of her as she embarks upon her rotational stage across the judges' kitchens."
Chair of judges Jamie Houghton commented: "The students were absolutely amazing today and the standard of work was sensational. There could only be one winner, however all eight finalists will embark on a rotational stage around the judges' kitchens to give them the best opportunity of showcasing their skills and acquiring new ones from the best pastry chef talent in the country.
"I just want to say a huge thank you to everybody who entered and supported the competition and very much look forward to accompanying our winner, Unaisa Hussein, to Valrhona HQ in France as her prize once restrictions are lifted – she has a very bright future ahead of her, I'm sure."
Neil Rippington, director of education at the Chefs' Forum, said: "Supporting Jamie and the team of judges was a pleasure. I was enthused by the number and standard of entries; it shows what great talent we have in colleges throughout the UK. At a time when the chef shortage is being cited on social media every day, it is crucial that we nurture and encourage young chefs and help them be the best they can possibly be. This is the way to solve the chef shortage and it is wonderfully supportive lecturers like all those who attended today."