Young Havering chefs are hungry for victory

THE COMPETITION to find the best young Gordon Ramsey’s, Jamie Oliver’s and Nigella Lawson’s in Essex and East London is underway.

A record 50 budding chefs turned up the heat to launch the fifth East London and Essex Schools Young Chef of the Year Competition held at Quarles Campus, of Havering College of Further and Higher Education, in Harold Hill - home to the college’s specialist school of catering and hospitality.

Celebrity chef Paul Gayler, Executive Chef at London’s prestigious Lanesborough Hotel on Hyde Park and one of the judges, stirred the teenagers into action at the launch with a live demonstration of his culinary skills.

The entrants, all aged 13 to 16, will be returning to the college early next year to take part in a series of cooking heats before the cream of the crop sweat it out at the grand final in April.

At the launch they took away a list of ingredients so they can plan and practice their dish for the first round.

The winner of the Havering College competition, staged in association with Waitrose, will receive a prize fund of �500, a dinner for four at the Lanesborough Hotel and have the opportunity of work experience at a top London restaurant.

Paul said: “This competition is the highlight of my year. I love it because it encourages young people to come into what is a fantastic industry. We could find the next Jamie Oliver or Delia Smith.”

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Competitor Gemma Griffiths, 15, of Chafford School in Rainham, already puts her culinary skills to excellent as a volunteer at Seabrooke Rise Community House in Grays.

She said: “My specialities are pastries, desserts and cakes. I love to make cakes for the events at the community centre.”

Matthew Smith, 15, of Gaynes School in Upminster, who has set his sights on becoming a chef, said: “I have always had an interest in cooking and did work experience last year at a popular London restaurant. It is exciting to be taking part in a competition such as this.”

Reece Kallah, 14, from Emerson Park School, is likely to be one who stays calm under the pressure of the competition.

Reece said: “With all the aromas, preparing food is calming. It’s a great stress reliever.”