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Young Chef of the Year success for catering students at Banbury and Bicester College

05 February 2018


Catering student Sophie Brown is celebrating after winning the Banbury Young Chef of the Year Competition for 2018.

Hook Norton resident Sophie Brown produced a main course of roasted cod with vegetables, followed by a chocolate and hazelnut mousse, to take the honours at the final of the Rotary Club’s Banbury Young Chef Competition on 23 January. 

Seventeen-year-old Sophie, a student at Banbury and Bicester College where the final took place, triumphed over four other finalists to receive the winner’s trophy from Banbury Town Mayor, Cllr Colin Clarke. 

Sophie is currently in her first year of studying a Level 2, Technical Certificate in Professional Cookery, at the recently rated “good” OFSTED college.

Runner-up was Liam Wood of Brackley, a fellow student of Sophie’s at the Broughton Road based college, who impressed the judges with his mushroom and chicken risotto with bacon followed by raspberry and white chocolate cheesecake. Liam said: “I enjoyed researching into the menu and food that I made.  But really, I just focused on things that I like to eat.  I practiced cooking the dishes loads at home and at college.  The competition was really faced paced and I’m really pleased I did it.”

Both now have the opportunity to take part in the district final, with the possibility of reaching April’s national final of the competition.

Peter Harvey, learning manager at Banbury and Bicester College, said: “The competition has been an extremely useful experience for all of our young chefs.  The format closely imitates exam conditions, which is good practice, being able to cook under time pressures.  Plus the students were asked to devise both healthy and cost effective menus, which mirrors parts of the modules we’re currently working on.

“The students were able to practice their dishes at our newly refurbished kitchen at Banbury campus, with brand new cookers, ovens and extraction units – closely matching the type of equipment that they will use in industry and work experience.”

Reg Howe, proprietor of sponsor Reg’s Catering, said: “We were delighted to be involved in this fantastic competition. The judges had an extremely difficult choice though in the end, I’d say they made the right decision. But the food prepared by every single one of these talented youngsters was absolutely amazing. 

“The standard of the food they were able to deliver in such a short time certainly gives me hope that some of them will consider a career in our industry. And if I were in their parents’ shoes, I’d be sitting back and letting the kids dish up the family meals in future.”