College teams up with top UK chefs to discover new talent

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The heat was on last week (Tuesday 15 March) as the final of Berkshire’s Best Young Chef competition took place at the Hospitality & Catering Academy at Langley College.

Seven of the county’s talented young cooks, who were all aged 12-19, battled it out in a masterchef-style contest, organised by East Berkshire College and the Slough & Windsor Observer.

Now in its third year, the contest saw the finalists create their best dish for a panel of some of the UK’s top chefs including Aaron Mulliss, Head Chef at Tom Kerridge’s two Michelin star Hand & Flowers restaurant, Nick Beardshaw, Head Chef at The Coach in Marlow, and award-winning pastry chef, Will Torrent.

Erika Lazaro Costa (aged 14, from Reading) impressed the judges with her ambitious Chocolate Fondant with an Almond Tuile and Raspberry Coulis to win the top prize in the age 12-15 age category. Meanwhile, Mark Bendall (aged 19), who is an apprentice chef at The Green Parrott in Maidenhead was victorious in the Best Apprentice Chef category with his superb Fish Pie.

The budding young chefs were given just 90 minutes to cook their mouth-watering dishes for the chance to win some amazing prizes. Prizes that included a meal at the two Michelin star Hand & Flowers, a meal and masterclass at The Oakely Court in Windsor, a signed copy of Will Torrent’s new book ‘Afternoon Tea at Home’ and some of the finest single origin chocolate from Cacao Barry, of which Will is an Ambassador, as well as a collection of baking accessories courtesy of Sainsbury’s Uxbridge Road store.

Commenting on the need to support young chefs, judge Will Torrent, who recently delighted shoppers with his range of limited edition patisserie in The Tea Room at Harrods, enthused: “It is great to inspire and develop the next generation. It’s so important to encourage young talent and get people excited about the hospitality industry. Taking part in this competition at such a young age is good for their confidence and our industry. We have some great plans for next year’s competition.”

Commenting on the contest and the College, Aaron Mulliss said: “This is a great competition and the facilities at the College are second to none. It’s an amazing place to come and learn the basics. The Hand & Flowers and The Coach have this year taken on two apprentices from East Berkshire College.”

While the contestants were hard at work on their dishes, East Berkshire College’s talented catering students showcased their skills by creating and serving a delicious selection of canapés to guests, including local dignitaries, businesses, schools and parents.

Opened in October 2013, the stunning Hospitality & Catering Academy is part of the College’s £30m investment in its Langley College. The academy works in partnership with some of the most prestigious restaurants, contract caterers and hotels within the region to provide students with the opportunity to learn from some of the best in the business.

Helping to meet the training needs of local businesses in this thriving sector, the facility accommodates professional training kitchens and a working restaurant. Providing a real work environment for students, the Zest restaurant is open to the public and serves a range of delicious seasonal dishes at competitive prices. All food is cooked and served by talented students under the supervision of industry-trained staff.

From professional cookery to front of house service, the new academy offers an array of full-time and part-time courses, including apprenticeships. For further information on East Berkshire College and its extensive range of over 800 courses, including apprenticeships, click here or call 01753 793000.

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