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Smithdon High School

Young chefs showcase culinary skills

Budding chefs at Smithdon had the opportunity to showcase their culinary talents in a national cookery competition – with two making it through to the next stage.

Seven Year 10 students at our school entered the annual Rotary Young Chef Competition, which is open to secondary school students across the country aged 11 to 17.

Rebecca Dibble, who teaches Food & Nutrition at Smithdon, explained: “The competition is a fabulous opportunity that the Rotary Club has created for young people who love to cook to show off their culinary skills.

“The students are given a short brief – cook a healthy meal for two on a budget of £5.

“There were up to ten places in the in-school stage of the competition, and I selected seven students from this year’s entries.

“To win a place, students needed to create a menu, time plan, costings sheet, and explanation on how their dish met the brief.

“They then had one hour and 40 minutes to prepare, cook, and present their dishes, with two winners selected to go onto the next stage.

“We started with the in-school competition, and then it goes to a local heat, then onto District Finals, Cluster Finals, and the National Finals.”

Lily Nicol and Bayley Smith were pronounced winners, and will now go through to local qualifying, which will be held in February at Springwood High School, a fellow member of West Norfolk Academies Trust.

Lily’s winning menu consisted of pan-roasted chicken breast with fondant butternut squash, kale and butternut puree with a reduction jus, while Bayley triumphed with salmon with thyme and bacon hasselback potatoes, and spinach with a lemon and thyme butter sauce.

Lily, who made it to the District Finals in last year’s competition, said: “I felt well prepared and had a clear picture in my mind of how I wanted it to look on the plate, and was happy about how it all came together.”

Bayley added: “I started off anxious until I plated my dish, then it was nerve-wracking when the judges announced the winners – then I felt relieved to be announced as one of the students going through to the next round.”

Members of the judging panel included our Headteacher, Amanda Gibbins, along with school governor and Rotary club member John Crofts, and local restaurateur Eric Smith.

“The competition nationwide is open to students who are 11 to 17 years old,” continued Mrs Dibble. “At Smithdon, we opened the competition up to our Year 10 Hospitality and Catering Students, who are 14 to 15-years-old.

“They needed to create a costing spreadsheet to ensure they did not go over the £5 budget, create a menu to show what they planned to cook, and create a time plan to ensure they could complete the dish, including preparation and cleaning down, in the time set, and, finally, write a paragraph to explain how their dish met the healthy eating criteria.

“The competition gives the students a sneak peak into the coursework element of the hospitality and catering course they are on, and it helps them to realise that what they learn at school can be used elsewhere, and not just in lessons.

“Personally, I think it is a fun and enjoyable experience that they can be very proud of and will potentially help them gain employment in the future.

“The atmosphere when the students are participating in the competition is just fantastic, and there is a real buzz.”

More photos can be found here.