Heat is on for aspiring chefs
Those whose dream job it is to be a Michelin chef will be super jealous of these north-east youngsters and the opportunity they are taking
A team of youngsters from Banchory Academy are getting a helping hand in a national Young Chef competition thanks to three well-known culinary experts from the area.
The Rotary Young Chef Competition is a well-established and successful competition organised and promoted by Rotary International and Banchory Rotary Club.
As organiser of the renowned Taste of Grampian, Carol Fowler, of Prime Event Management and Banchory Lodge, decided to enlist the help of some experts to ensure that pupils from Banchory Academy get the best possible start.
Carol teamed up with BBC Professional Masterchef Finalist and owner of the Moonfish Cafe Brian McLeish to help the youngsters with their trial heat on November 23. Brian will be on hand to share tips on food preparation, presentation and flavours before they are put in front of a judging panel of two more head chefs on December 7.
“Thanks to programmes like Masterchef and Great British Bake Off, young people are more into cooking than ever before,” Brian said.
“It is hoped that these children may be also inspired to enter the schools competition which Taste of Grampian runs. This Rotary competition is a chance for young people to see the pressures of working in a kitchen, honing their preparation skills as well as becoming familiar with produce and ingredients.
“It’s exciting to be involved in a project that could encourage a generation of aspiring, young chefs to get into catering or hospitality as a career.”
Carol also secured prizes for all the Banchory Academy participants, thanks to Lady Claire Macdonald and QMS as both are supporters of the Aspiring Chef Competition at Taste of Grampian. Pupils will receive signed cookbooks and aprons as part of the competition.
With four stages to the competition, it was established to support and encourage the development of cookery skills in young people aged 11 to 17. The aims of the competition will include the ability to cook a healthy meal, food presentation skills, hygiene and menu planning.
The local heat will take place on December 7, judged by head chefs Scott Stephen, from Banchory Lodge, and Graham Buchan, from The Cowshed.
Scott said: “I look forward to seeing what these youngsters can produce after they have spent time being mentored by Brian McLeish in the trial run.
“We have some young chefs in our kitchen at Banchory Lodge who are extremely capable of producing some great tasting food. I’m expecting to see some initiative, passion and flair using local produce.
“Hopefully, with some encouraging feedback, we can help the winner of the heat to go on further through the competition.”
Graham is also a member of the Royal Academy of Culinary Arts. He focuses on the education and training of young people in the hospitality industry, raising standards and awareness of food, cooking and service. He said: “This competition is great for promoting the hospitality industry as a career at a time when youngsters need to be considering what they want to do when they leave school.
“If you have a passion for food, a career as a chef means you showcase your skills every day with the possibility to work in some of the top restaurants and hotels in the world.”
The district finals will be followed by regional finals, which will then culminate in the national final in April in Leicester. The winner will receive a trophy and be crowned with the title Rotary Chef of the Year.