UCB Young Chef of the Year

September 2016

University College Birmingham is launching its first-ever competition for young chefs in the Midlands.

The inaugural UCB Young Chef of the Year competition will be judged by industry experts in a bid to find the kitchen stars of the future. We are offering outstanding prizes for the winner including a VIP food experience with celebrity chef Glynn Purnell and a new iPhone 6.

There are also prizes for the top three pupils’ schools, including cookery equipment vouchers worth £500 for the winner’s school.

UCB, home to the internationally-renowned College of Food, is celebrating 100 years of training chefs in Birmingham. Our facilities and food trends may have changed but our mission remains the same as it was in 1916 – to uncover and nurture top culinary talent.

Our competition, which is free to enter, is open to all Year 10 and Year 11 pupils (aged 14 to 16) and will culminate in exciting live cook-offs.

Budding young chefs can be put forward by their school – or they can enter independently.

The winner of the UCB Young Chef of the Year will enjoy a unique culinary experience with TV cookery star Glynn Purnell. They will get to work alongside the Yummy Brummie at his Michelin-star restaurant in Birmingham before enjoying an amazing lunch.

The Young Chef of the Year will also pocket a new iPhone 6, allowing them to keep up to date with all the latest food news, recipes and culinary trends via social media and websites.

There are prizes for the second and third placed chefs and all finalists will win professional chef jackets. (You can see the full list of prizes below.)

Glynn will be joined by UCB graduate Ben Ebbrell, co-founder of SORTEDfood – one of the world’s biggest online cookery channels with 1.5 million subscribers – among the judges for the final.

UCB is staging the competition with sponsors City and Guilds, The Savoy Educational Trust and the British Culinary Federation and is delighted to have the Birmingham Mail as media partner.

There are three stages to the competition: an online entry followed by two cooking rounds – the qualifying heat and the grand final. The live cook-offs will be held at UCB’s competition kitchens on Saturdays to ensure school teaching time is not interrupted.

The online entry should be completed here and asks young chefs to outline a two-course meal for two, comprising a hot main dish and a hot or cold dessert. Judges are particularly interested both in dishes with a personal/family emphasis and those that reflect the region’s culinary diversity and food heritage.

The total budget for the meal for two (two main courses and two desserts) is £10. We have set the budget as a guideline to ensure fairness.

To help competitors price their meals – and stay within budget – we have provided some guidance on calculating food costs. There is also information about the judging criteria – as well as our terms and conditions.

All online entries must be submitted by Friday, October 21. We are unable to return entries so please keep a copy of the information you submit if you need it for future reference. 

Members of UCB’s Culinary Team will judge the entries and successful candidates will be invited to cook their menus in a qualifying heat at UCB on Saturday, December 10. Full instructions about the day, and the equipment available, will be provided to successful candidates.

Competitors will have to produce their hot main dish and dessert (as outlined in their online entry) for two diners in 90 minutes. The main course can be served after one hour. All cooking costs up to £10 (incurred on the day of the cook-off) will be reimbursed by UCB.

The first cook-off will be judged by a team of UCB food experts including chef lecturers. The finalists will be announced on the UCB website on December 14 and contacted via email.

The successful chefs will return to UCB for the grand final on Saturday, January 21, when the total food budget will be increased to £15. Chefs will be asked to recreate their original dishes, which they can modify with new ingredients. Alternatively, they can cook completely new dishes. Again, they must cook a hot main dish and a dessert for two diners in 90 minutes. All cooking costs (incurred on the day of the cook-off) will be reimbursed up to £15.

The UCB Young Chef of the Year competition is open to all young chefs living in the West Midlands, Staffordshire, Worcestershire, Warwickshire, Shropshire, Herefordshire and the East Midlands.

We look forward to receiving your entry and if you have any questions please email us at: chefs@ucb.ac.uk

And don’t forget – the deadline for online entries is Friday, October 21.




  • A morning in the kitchen at Michelin-star Purnell's restaurant, working alongside Glynn Purnell, followed by a complimentary lunch for the winner and three guests (including parents/guardian/carer).
  • iPhone 6
  • Winner's trophy

  • Pupil's school wins £500 Russums' vouchers for kitchen equipment


  • Dinner for runner-up and three guests (including parents/guardian/carer) in the award-winning Atrium restaurant at UCB

  • £150 Love2Shop vouchers

  • Pupil's school wins £300 Russums' voucher for kitchen equipment


  • £100 Love2Shop vouchers

  • Pupil's school wins £200 Russums' voucher for kitchen equipment

  • All finalists win a UCB branded chef jacket.