November 2018

Heat is on to find best young chef in the Midlands

Read time: approx 3 mins

University College Birmingham is calling on talented young cooks to enter its annual Young Chef of the Year competition.

The search is underway to find the best young chef in the Midlands to follow in the footsteps of reigning champion Jo Dainton - who landed a coveted Royal Academy of Culinary Arts (RACA) apprenticeship after winning in 2018.

All pupils in Year 10 and 11 are eligible for the University College Birmingham (UCB) Young Chef of the Year competition, sponsored by Maple from Canada. Entrants have to incorporate maple syrup to produce two tasty courses for a panel of professional judges. Individual prizes include a new iPhone plus unique cookery experiences for the winner’s school.

The top pupil’s school will scoop £500 of cookery equipment – and a further £500 of new kit will be split between the second and third-placed schools.

Maple from Canada’s UK chef ambassador David Colcombe will also perform two special cookery demonstrations, at the winner’s school in 2019.

Now in its third year, the competition is held at UCB, home to one of the world’s top food colleges. Schools throughout the region are encouraged to take part including Wolverhampton and the Black Country, Solihull, Coventry, Warwickshire, Worcestershire, Staffordshire, Shropshire, Herefordshire and Leicestershire.

Young chefs aged 14 to 16 can be put forward by their school, or they can enter independently. All entries must be submitted online via UCB’s website.

For their online entries, contestants outline a two-course menu featuring a hot main dish and a hot, or cold, dessert. The total budget is £10. One of the dishes must feature Canadian maple syrup as a key ingredient. Maple from Canada represents all Canadian maple syrup brands looked after by the Federation of Quebec Maple Syrup Producers, which supplies 72% of the world’s maple syrup.

The deadline for online entries is November 9.

Pupils with the best menus will be invited to take part in cook-offs at UCB on December 1 with the final taking place on January 26, 2019. Food costs for the cook-offs will be reimbursed.

Neil Rippington, Dean of the College of Food at UCB, said: “The competition is a great way of getting young people involved in practical cookery and building their confidence in the kitchen. There are some great prizes up for grabs for schools too.

“We have seen some truly innovative dishes and great cooking techniques in previous years. The bar has definitely been raised for this year’s competition.”

Nathalie Langlois, Marketing Director of Maple from Canada, said: “Cookery teaches young people valuable life skills and leads to superb careers in the food industry. We are thrilled the young chefs will be using pure Canadian maple syrup as a key ingredient. As well as being 100% natural, it is hugely versatile and is delicious in sweet and savoury dishes.”

Last year’s winner Jo, aged 16, of Dudley, encouraged young people to take part in the competition. She said:

“Entering the UCB Young Chef of the Year was one of the best decisions I have ever made. I experienced working under pressure in a professional kitchen but, because the judges were really encouraging and supportive, it was as much fun as it was scary.

“I couldn’t believe it when I won, the prizes were amazing and I also got to spend a morning cooking in Glyn Purnell’s Michelin starred restaurant before having lunch there with my family.

“The whole experience really consolidated my ambition to become a chef and I have now gained a place on the Royal Academy for Culinary Arts apprenticeship at UCB. If you think you want to be a chef, there’s no better way than by entering Young Chef of the Year!”

The competition organisers will be unveiling the judges for the final in the coming weeks.

Any questions about the competition should be sent by email to:

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