Hornchurch teenager named Young Chef of the Year

Six talented young cooks survived the heat of the kitchen as they battled to become Young Chef of the Year 2011.

The group, who were judged by head chefs from two of London’s top venues, were taking part in the annual competition run by Havering College of Further and Higher Education.

After a gruelling day of cooking the title was awarded to Richard King, a pupil at Abbs Cross Academy and Arts College, Hornchurch.

His winning meal, which used some ingredients from his family’s allotment, was breast of chicken wrapped in pancetta and stuffed with mushrooms and shallots, followed by a steamed apricot sponge with apricot coulis.

The 15-year-old said: “I am absolutely ecstatic. I was a runner-up last year and was determined to win this time.”

Richard’s parents Sally and Paul watched as he was presented with a glass trophy, a prize fund totalling �500, a meal for his family at a top hotel and work experience at a London eaterie.

The competition, run this year in association with Waitrose Upminster, was launched five years ago by the college to encourage young people to prepare and cook food, develop their knowledge and appreciation of fresh ingredients and to give them a flavour of a career as a chef.

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Other finalists included Coopers’ Company and Coburn School pupils Jessica Bayliss, 14, and Hannah Carter, 15; Campion School pupil Adam Green, 15, Amy-Jane Field from Kelvedon Hatch and Michelle Shaw from Loughton.

The competition’s chief judge was Paul Gayler, executive chef at the Lanesborough Hotel at Hyde Park. He said: “This year’s competition was particularly hard fought.

“All the finalists have been a credit to their schools and produced some truly wonderful and inspirational food.”