Tunbridge Wells student wows the judges in Kent Young Chef 2012 competition

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By kentsussex | Friday, November 30, 2012, 10:11

The identity of two of the county's finest budding young chefs was revealed in the nail-biting live cook off at K College Tonbridge.

The Produced in Kent inspired competition, which is sponsored by kff and Opies, saw four young secondary school students aged between 11 and 13 from schools in Ashford, Maidstone, Sevenoaks and Tunbridge Wells battle it out in the kitchen for the Junior title, whilst four more talented chefs in the making, aged 14 and 15 years old, competed from schools in Tonbridge, Sevenoaks, Sittingbourne and Dover for the Senior title.

Twelve-year-old Benjamin Colley of Hawkhurst, who goes to school at The Skinners' School Tunbridge Wells clinched the Junior title with his outstanding Fallow Deer Wellington, whilst fourteen-year-old Eden Allsworth of Canterbury, who goes to school at Highsted Grammar School, Sittingbourne picked up the Senior title with her beautiful Duo of Pan Roasted Belly of Pork & Line Caught Sea Bass with Apple Wood Smoked Mash and Medley of Autumn Vegetables.

Commenting on their wins, Benjamin Colley said, "I'm over the moon I can't believe how good this feels.

"To find out I'd made the final was incredible and now to have won the Junior title means so much to me especially as I hope to go into the restaurant trade one day.

"Entering a competition like this is so worthwhile you get so much out of it and I'd encourage everyone to have a go next year!"

Meanwhile, Eden Allsworth was equally ecstatic about her win, she said: "I'm completely overwhelmed it's just incredible.

"Just taking part in the final is an amazing experience and then to be picked as the winner is indescribable. I have a passion for cooking and this is a wonderful step to working in a professional kitchen one day."

The esteemed panel of judges including celebrity chef and Kent restaurateur Richard Phillips, Tony Blake commercial manager at kff, Ian Piper deputy head of faculty at K College and Tony O'Brien, head of food operations, London Business School were blown away by the standards achieved by the eight young chefs aged between 11 and 15.

Richard Phillips said: "It might sound a bit of a cliché but the bar has been raised yet again this year, the levels of flavours and presentation achieved were outstanding and there were dishes here today that the general public would have been happy to pay good money for, such was their professionalism."  

The eight finalists had already made it past paper entries numbering over 100 entries from 23 different schools, to reach the live cook off which lasted for two hours in front of an esteemed a panel of judges and live audience which included the Deputy Mayor & Mayoress of Tonbridge & Malling, Mark Dance the KCC Cabinet Member for Regeneration & Economic Development and around 45 supporters and teachers from the eight schools, all of whom followed the action on a big screen in The View Restaurant on the top floor at K College.  

The three runners up in the Junior title included: Connie Dayman of Combe Bank School, Sundridge, Sevenoaks with her Herb Crusted Trout with creamed Horseradish Potato and Braised Leeks, Amy Monk of Invicta Grammar School, Maidstone with her Spinach, Goats Cheese and Mushroom Ravioli with Cobnut Pesto, Cream and Basil Sauce with Rosemary and Black Olive Beer Bread and James Thorne of Ashford School, Ashford with his Saddle of Marsh Lamb stuffed with Mint and Kentish Apple on a pillow of Saffron infused Potato Puree surrounded by Carrot & Parsnip Croutons sprinkled with Kentish Cobnut and Kentish Ale Lambswool Sauce.

Meanwhile in the Senior title the runners up were Charlotte O'Connor of The Knole Academy, Sevenoaks who made her Red Tractor Lamb. Christopher Smith of Harbour Specialist School, Dover who cooked his Lamb Wrapped Chicken, whilst second time finalist Jordan Winter from the Weald of Kent Grammar School, Tonbridge, who competed with her Handmade Spinach Ravioli filled with Kent sourced Sweet Potato and Spicy Pumpkin served with a roasted Garlic & Tomato Sauce and Streaky Bacon.

As well as the winners' trophies, hampers and certificates, all the finalists were treated to a buffet lunch after the cook off. Now all eight finalists will have a fantastic mini chef experience and lunch at one of Richard Phillips's restaurants, whilst the two winners will devise the menu for the Kent Young chef Award Charity Dinner in aid of The Heart of Kent hospice on Thursday 24 January 2013 at The Windmill by Richard Phillips, in Hollingbourne.

During the evening the two finalists will be treated as guests of honour whilst the fantastic culinary event is open to members of the public. Simply contact The Windmill to make a booking on Tel: 01622 889000 or Email: reservations@thewindmillbyrichardphillips.co.uk



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