Schoolgirl Jo wins chance to shadow TV chef as UCB Young Chef of the Year

January 2018

Schoolgirl Jo Dainton has won the chance to shadow a Michelin-starred TV chef after being crowned winner of UCB’s Young Chef of the Year 2018 competition. 

Jo, aged 16, a pupil at Ellowes Hall Sports College, Dudley, has been invited to spend a morning with Glynn Purnell at his flagship Birmingham restaurant, Purnell’s, followed by a special celebration lunch with three guests, after impressing judges in an all-female final. 

In particular, she was praised for her clever use of ingredients, exceptional technique and elegant presentation following the 90-minute cook-off at UCB’s College of Food kitchens. 

The competition, supported by Maple from Canada, challenges young people aged 14 to 16 to cook a main course and a dessert, with one of the dishes incorporating pure Canadian maple syrup. 

Jo’s award-winning menu comprised chorizo-crusted baked cod with a potato rösti and tarragon butter beans, followed by maple mascarpone filled profiteroles with a maple salted caramel sauce. 

As well as the opportunity to shadow Glynn, her prizes included a new iPad Pro, £500 of cookery vouchers for her school and a goodie bag of products courtesy of Maple from Canada. 

Jo, who entered the competition last year, said: “It is my last year at school and I wanted to try to get placed. I have entered competitions in the past and never finished first, second or third, so it’s unbelievable to win.” 

The talented young chef said she had used Canadian maple syrup in her GCSE studies, when pupils had to find alternatives to sugar to make cupcakes. 

Alongside Glynn, the Young Chef of the Year judges included UCB graduate Ben Ebbrell, who runs SORTEDfood, one of the world’s most popular online cookery channels with 1.8 million YouTube subscribers, David Colcombe, UK chef ambassador for Maple from Canada, Peter Griffiths, of the British Culinary Federation, and UCB chef lecturer Gary Goldsmith. 

Glynn said: “Once again, this has been a fantastic competition, from the enthusiasm and dedication of the young people to the standard of the food.” 

Chef Colcombe said: “It’s great to see a new generation of young chefs coming through, and great to see an all-female final. The challenge now is to support young people, both male and female, as they seek to pursue careers in the hospitality industry.” 

Neil Rippington, Dean of UCB’s College of Food, said: “The finalists have showcased some great skills and Jo’s cooking and presentation were of an exceptionally high standard. We are delighted that she will be joining UCB next year as part of our Royal Academy of Culinary Arts chef apprenticeship scheme.” 

Ayesha Mukhtar, 14, of Lyndon School, Solihull was second and Millie Fellows, also 14, of Ridgewood High School, Stourbridge, was third. 

Find out more about courses at UCB’s College of Food

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