Three Chesterfield College students will compete for the prestigious 2019 Young Chef of the Year Award after a Master Chef-style competition.
Held as part of the annual Chesterfield Food and Drink Awards, the award recognises the college’s most promising Level 2 cookery student.
In a specially organised cook-off, Jake Parkin, 18, from Swanwick, Sophia Johnson, 18, from Dronfield and Callum Fitzpatrick, 18, from Bramley Vale, each prepared a two-course meal for judges Chris Mapp owner of the Tickled Trout, Andrew Wilson, head chef at Casa Hotel and Richard Taylor, managing director of Owen Taylor & Sons, which sponsored the event.
Jake’s seasonal menu included duck breast with celeriac puree, fondant potato and a five spice jus followed by fresh strawberry cheesecake, sorbet, strawberry salad and Swiss meringue.
Jake said: “I started cooking at around five years old with my grandma – making cakes and doing some other baking. I quickly learned I had a passion for it and I know it’s something I definitely want to pursue. Who knows, maybe one day I could be the next Gordon Ramsey!”
Sophia chose to cook lamb rack and croquette, pickled courgetti, mint salsa verde and confit potatoes followed by hedgerow chocolate brownie, crumble, Italian meringue and yoghurt sauce.
She said: “I felt really pleased with how it went, I’d done plenty of practice runs so felt really prepared and calm. The timings went really well so I had time to think about the presentation. Being a finalist is an exciting achievement and my aim was just that the food I served on the day was a success – and it was!”
Callum prepared roast duck with celeriac, peach, duck spring roll and a red wine jus followed by vanilla poached Asian pear with caramel and cinnamon biscuit for the judges.
He added: “I was surprised to be a finalist but it is really exciting and just goes to show that hard work pays off. I did a lot of online research in preparation for my menu and decided to cook duck and pear as these were things I’d never used before. I absolutely loved plating up the dishes as it is so good seeing the creation come together.”
Mr Wilson said: "All three young chefs were competent in presentation and dealt well with the pressure of cooking two dishes from scratch whilst being observed and questioned about the dishes they were preparing. They had all obviously researched, planned and practised to be able to achieve the high standard of cooking that they presented to the judges."
Mr Taylor added: “It was a very good effort from all three students today. The food was delivered with acceptable presentation, but one shone and I look forward to seeing that person on the awards night.”