Each year Rotary holds a series of knockout rounds, from local clubs right up to national level, to find the best Young Chef of the year.
The Rotary Young Chef Competition is a well established and successful competition organised and promoted by Rotary International in Great Britain & Ireland and sponsored by Filippo Berio, the olive oil company. It is a four stage national competition to support and encourage development of cookery skills.
This year one of the local first rounds was held in Horsham at Millais School for Girls.
On Wednesday November 11 the seven contestants arrived with boxes of ingredients, special tools, plates, knives and forks.
They and parents gathered in the school, were led to the very well equipped teaching rooms for cooking and made themselves familiar with the kitchen places for cooking and the adjoining kitchen set up to display the entries when prepared, cooked and finally presented in a dinner party table setting.
Each had a dedicated area with an electric hob, an oven, sink and preparation surfaces.
All parents and supporters had to leave as the competition started. The chefs were on their own.
The contestants had 120 minutes to prepare, cook and present a two course meal for two people, costing no more than £10 in total.
The young chef sponsored by Rotary Club of Cuckfield & Lindfield (RCLL) was Nathan Aylett and he joined the six others entered through the Horsham Rotary club.
Two judges from well known and independent restaurants – Lewis Hamblet, the executive chef at South Lodge and Robbie Pierce, the head chef at the Roffey Institute – were on hand during the whole time.
During the two hours the judges were observing to see if the contestants could cook a healthy meal, had developed food presentation skills, mastered food hygiene issues, showed organisational and planning skills whilst demonstrating the ability to cope in demanding situations.
The meal for the first person was presented on the dinner table setting to be judged on layout and style (photo below) and for the second person the meal was offered for tasting and quality review by the judges.
Nathan produced for his first course a curried cod loin, cauliflower purée, roast cauliflower and pickled mango. This was followed by a chocolate fondant with whipped cream and raspberries as a perfect follow on.
All the contestants were praised highly by the judges and RCCL sponsored Nathan came first in a hotly contested two hours.
The runner up was announced and as part of the prize, both winner and runner up will receive mentoring at South Lodge to help them with the next round.
The next round will be held after Christmas at a place yet to be announced.
Report and picture contributed by Rotary Club of Cuckfield & Lindfield.