Katie beats 9,000 students to title of FutureChef champion
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Perseverance has paid off for University College Birmingham apprentice Katie Cooper after she beat more than 9,000 students to be named winner of Springboard’s FutureChef competition.
After months of preparation, and tense local and regional heats, Katie swept to victory at the national final on Monday (March 27).
The sixteen-year-old from Northamptonshire battled it out against 11 other students from across the country. Her menu of pan-fried sea bass with cauliflower puree and a red wine reduction, followed by a dessert of chocolate cheesecake with raspberry and caramel shards was judged to be the best on the day.
Katie is a student on University College Birmingham’s prestigious Royal Academy of Culinary Arts Apprenticeship (RACA), which gives young chefs an opportunity to work and learn in some of the UK’s best restaurants, including those with coveted Michelin stars.
It proved to be third time lucky for the determined student, who has entered the competition twice before. She said: “It’s taken me three years to reach the National Final. It’s great to have made it and to have won. I see myself going on in the industry and going as far as possible.”
Katie was mentored by University College Birmingham’s Senior Chef Lecturer Anthony Wright, who himself is no stranger to competing. He represented the UK at last year’s Bocuse d'Or culinary competition. FutureChef recognised Chef Wright’s dedication by awarding him the title ‘Winning Mentor’.
Anne Pierce, Springboard’s Chief Executive, said: “Congratulations to all of our hard-working, committed finalists – they have all been part of a great FutureChef. It really is amazing to see the quality of work by young chefs improve year on year, the talent we see as a result of Springboard’s FutureChef initiative is remarkable and Katie is a true winner.”
Brian Turner OBE, FutureChef Chairman, added: “It has been a fantastic day and it’s good to see so many dedicated young people with so much talent. Thanks must also go to teachers and mentors who make such a great contribution to the success of the event. Katie is a great winner.”
Katie wins a visit to Ascot, courtesy of sponsor Sodexo, where she will work with top chefs and enjoy Ascot’s full hospitality. University College Birmingham also receives a voucher to the value of £500 courtesy of Bunzl Lockhart.
The FutureChef competition, which attracts around 9,000 entrants annually, aims to find the nation’s best young chef aged 12 to 16. Competitors have a budget of £10 and just 90 minutes to prepare two portions of a main course and a dessert.