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29th October 2018

Final 8 young chefs announced!


23rd October 2018

The first stage of the Kent Young Chef Award judging took place over two sessions, when the panel of four judges deliberated over the submissions from Kent school children. The competition, organised by Produced in Kent, is open to young people aged 11 to 16. The ‘Live Final’, will take place at West Kent College on Wednesday 21st November.

The panel of judges headed by Graham Garrett, owner, and Head Chef of The West House, was joined by returning judges, Patrick Hill and Tony Blake. He also welcomed new judge Ben Crittenden.

Stephanie Durling, organiser, Produced in Kent explained, “We are delighted to welcome new judge Ben Crittenden from Stark in Broadstairs, he worked in Graham’s restaurant in Biddenden for six years and won the prestigious Good Food Guide ‘Chef to Watch Award this year. We are also grateful for the continuing support of kff and its Commercial Manager, Tony Blake who has been representing the competition since it started in 2009. We are also delighted that Patrick Hill, Executive Chef, Thackerays will be once again be joining the panel.”

The panel have selected eight finalists this year, two Junior and six Senior. All the 2018 entrants applied through their schools and had to write and submit an original, innovative main dish and dessert recipe.

The staff team at Produced in Kent read all the applications prior to submitting to the team of judges for final selection. The main competition criteria is for the young cooks to use local, seasonal produce, so any entries that did not identify any of these elements were not considered.

Graham Garrett, Chief Judge, said, “This year we had fewer entries from the junior category which was a little disappointing, but we were then able to make the decision to have more senior young chefs at the Live Final. This will no doubt make our job more difficult on the day, however, the standard of cooking always makes the job worthwhile. The maturity and professionalism of the young cooks each year makes for a very exciting ‘Live Final’ and we all look forward to tasting the dishes”.

After reading through the Junior entries, the Judges made the difficult decision of only putting two entrants through to the final. Thomas Hunt, aged 12 from Judd School in Tonbridge, will be cooking a Venison Wellington followed by a Rhubarb Creme Brulee. The second finalist will be Rebecca Louden, from Invicta Grammar School in Maidstone. Rebecca aged 13, will be creating a Vegetable Pizza, followed by Kentish Poached Pear.

Three of the six finalists in the Senior Category all attend Tunbridge Wells Grammar School for Boys, and are all aged 14. Hamish McLay will present a Loin of Venison sourced from Chart Seal near Sevenoaks, served with Smoked Garlic Mash and a Sloe Gin and Red Wine Sauce. His dessert will be a traditional Kentish Bramley Apple Tart. The second finalist from the school is Cameron James, who will also be serving a main course of Loin of Venison, served with Butternut Squash, Kentish Chanterelle Mushrooms and Treviso Lettuce. For dessert he will be serving, Spiced Poached Pears with Hot Chocolate Sauce and Vanilla Ice Cream The final member of the trio from Tunbridge Wells is Jem Major, who will be cooking Kentish Appley Pork with Creamy Mash and Green Beans. His second course will be a Sticky Toffee Apple Pudding.

Joining the three boys from Tunbridge Wells will be returning Champion Charlotte Fife, 16, from Invicta Girls Grammar in Maidstone. Charlotte was a runner-up in the 2016 Kent Young Chef competition and went on to win the Springboard Future Chefs regional final in February 2017, with a Crab Tortellini. For the ‘Live Final’, Charlotte will be cooking Autumnal Kentish Game - Pheasant breast with Butternut Squash Fondant, Cabbage and Bacon Croquettes, pickled Blackberries and Crispy Sage. Charlotte will be cooking a unique Spiced Autumn Veg Box Cake - Jerusalem Artichoke Cake with White Chocolate Cremeux.

The final two seniors in the ‘Live Cook-Off’, Zavie Goutorbe and Elizabeth Glasson, aged 14 and 15 respectively are new to the competition and the judges felt their recipes and accompanying paperwork merited going through to the final. Zavie will be the only contestant cooking fish, and will be preparing Sea Bass. A dessert titled ‘The Colour of Autumn’, promises some truly wonderful autumn flavours. Elizabeth from Maidstone Grammar School for Girls will be making a Goats Cheese and Leek Tartlet with Caramelised Onion, with her pudding featuring Kentish Pears with Cinnamon, Citrus and Ginger.

Tony Blake, Commercial Manager from Head Sponsor, kff, said “We are really looking forward to tasting the three venison dishes, as well as the two vegetarian dishes; one from the juniors and one from the seniors. It is not always easy to present accomplished dishes, and all the recipes especially from the seniors, present challenges for the Young Cooks. If they have had plenty of practise and hold their nerve, then I am sure we will have some fantastic dishes to judge.”

All the Judges are looking forward to tasting the final eight dishes on Wednesday 21st November at West Kent College, Tonbridge Campus, when the best chef from the Junior and Senior age groups will be awarded the prestigious Kent Young Chef 2018 title.

Stephanie Durling, Produced in Kent, explained, “We are fortunate this year to have two new sponsors, BB4 Hospitality, who run the successful Ferry House Inn, are going to provide all eight finalists with their fresh ingredients and kindly deliver them in advance to the colleges fantastic catering facility. All remaining ingredients need to be purchased by the contestants where they will need to create two plates of food for each course on the morning of the competition. Nothing should be pre-cooked, pre-weighed, chopped, grated, peeled or pre-prepared in anyway, including sauces & accompaniments.”

Another new sponsor for 2018 is Hospitality Media, a company specialising in producing and promoting the hospitality sector. The highly successful team will be videoing and photographing the ‘Live Final’ and producing a final film capturing the highs and lows of the hard fought competition.

The Kent Young Chef Award is supported by, kff, CCS, BB4 Hospitality, Hospitality Media and Aford Awards. Representatives will be at the Cook Off to support the young chefs, with special thanks going to CCS for providing all the finalists with Chefs Jackets and a range of prizes.

The winner of the Junior and Senior titles will be announced following the ‘Live Cook Off’ on 21st November 2018.