March 2020

Stourbridge schoolgirl wins University College Birmingham Young Chef of the Year 2020

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A Stourbridge schoolgirl has roasted the competition to win University College Birmingham’s Young Chef of the Year and the chance to cook at Raymond Blanc OBE’s Michelin-starred restaurant.

Yasmin Fellows, who attends Ridgewood High School in Wollaston, was crowned for her “unique take” on the roast beef dinner and humble lemon meringue pie.

The 14-year-old will now get to spend up to five days working with top chefs at Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons in Oxfordshire, as well as have a VIP masterclass with TV chef Yummie Brummie Glynn Purnell at Michelin-starred Purnell’s in Birmingham.

The ecstatic teen chef from Stourton was initially worried that her dishes might not be as imaginative as her co-finalists’. But the judges - national street food champion Lee Desanges, Indian celebrity chef Garima Poddar, senior cookery tutor at The Raymond Blanc Cookery School, Becca Boast and President of the British Culinary Federation Peter Griffiths - loved her take on the two classics, even brushing over a minor mishap with her Yorkshire pudding.

Becca said: “Yasmin’s main course was a delicious roast beef with Yorkshire pudding and a simply fantastic jus, absolutely beautiful presentation. Pink beef and lovely crisp, layered potato, too.

“The ovens at University College Birmingham are industry-standard, super-hot, and she did cremate her first attempt at the Yorkshire pudding. However, she persevered to cook a wonderful dish and her lemon meringue pie was deconstructed and super lemony. A delicious, unique take on both dishes.”

The winning menu comprised a main of herb-roasted beef and Yorkshire pudding, crispy layered potatoes, seasonal vegetables of cubed parsnips, purple sprouting broccoli and sweet baby carrots, served with a beef jus and homemade horseradish sauce. Her deconstructed lemon meringue dessert featured sweet shortcrust pastry and piped citrusy lemon filling on toasted meringue.

Also winning an Apple iPad Air, a day in the kitchen followed by lunch for four at Purnell’s and a year’s free subscription to YouTube recipe channel SORTED, Yasmin said: “I was so nervous in the final, especially with burning the Yorkshire, but I managed to get back on track. I still haven’t got over the fact that I won and am totally overwhelmed by the prizes. Competing was a big boost for my confidence.

“I initially thought my dishes would be unimaginative compared to the others, but then thought my most favourite meal ever is a Sunday roast. My nan and mom make amazing roast dinners, so I wanted to create my own version, including rich flavours to make it really tasty.

“Lemon meringue pie is an absolute favourite dessert of mine. I love the contrasting textures of the crumbly pastry, smooth lemon filling and fluffy meringue and think they really work well together. You can also get really creative when presenting it.”

Yasmin’s food technology teacher Rebecca Lawrence said she was thrilled at Yasmin’s win, especially as the school won £500 towards cookery equipment. Making her even prouder, it is the second year running a student from Ridgewood has won the competition, now in its fourth year.

"I am so proud of Yasmin,” she said. “She has worked very hard towards this competition and deserves her success. This is an amazing competition that gives gifted and talented pupils an opportunity to challenge themselves and experience a professional environment. It is a privilege to work with such talented and committed students."

Encouraging the next generation

Open to 14-16 year olds, the British and international-themed Young Chef of the Year 2020 took place at University College Birmingham’s training kitchens in Summer Row.

This year’s second prize went to 16-year-old Lydia West from Ellowes Hall Sports College in Dudley, who served roast duck breast with plum sauce dish and apple rose tart, using ingredients from the Midlands. Her prize was dinner at the University’s Atrium restaurant, £300 towards school cookery equipment and £300 worth of Love2shop vouchers.

In third place was 15-year-old Gabriella Farrier from Aldersley High School in Solihull, who made a chicken Kiev and cherry Bakewell tart. Her prize was lunch at Indico Indian restaurant in Birmingham’s Mailbox, £200 towards school cookery equipment and £200 worth of Love2shop vouchers. All finalists received a personalised professional chef’s jacket.

Other incredible dishes in the final included Jamaica’s national dish Ackee and Saltfish, a butternut and ricotta rotolo and a Dutch buttercake, the level of expertise surprising this year’s judges.

This year’s entrants, who could enter themselves or be nominated by a teacher, were tasked with devising a hot main course and hot or cold dessert in 90 minutes. They could get as creative as they liked, their dishes just had to reflect their heritage in some way.

All of this year’s judges are alumni of University College Birmingham. The competition is supported and in association with Maple from Canada, Savoy Educational Trust, the British Culinary Federation and Russums. Find out more.

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