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Aspiring cooks whip up a storm in culinary contest

By Liz Nicholls

A quartet of the county’s best student chefs battled it out last week for the title of Young Cooks Professional 2017.

Winner Alex Woollett from Mid Kent College, Medway, with finalists and supporters at the Young Cooks Professionals 2017 contest at Swale Skills Centre, Sittingbourne.
Winner Alex Woollett from Mid Kent College, Medway, with finalists and supporters at the Young Cooks Professionals 2017 contest at Swale Skills Centre, Sittingbourne.

The youngsters made it through to the final of the annual cookery contest, staged at Swale Skill Centre in Sittingbourne, to find the rising stars of catering colleges in the region.

Each contestant had two and a half hours to prepare two courses for a panel of judges which included representatives from The Co-operative, Abbots Barton Hotel, Golding Homes, Suzanne Howe Communications, NFU Mutual, LC Services, Benenden Hospital , and Chequers Kitchen Cookery School.

Alex Woollett of Mid Kent College, Gillingham triumphed over fellow finalists and was presented with a limited edition engraved silver salver naming her Young Cooks Professional Champion 2017. Her winning dish was pan fried salmon with rainbow chard, spinach and clams, followed by a dessert of lemon bavarois with blackcurrent coulis, chantilly cream, and brandy snap.

Taking second place was Sherin Jiji from North Kent College, Dartford with her seared sea bream on a bed of sautéed leek and roasted red potato slices. For dessert she made brandy infused biscuit crumb with vanilla chestnut marscarpone, raspberry coulis, and ginger whipped cream.

The remaining finalists included Sam Field of West Kent and Ashford College, Tonbridge - who prepared cod loin with chicken crackling, followed by crème fraiche panna cotta – and Johnny Finch of Entrees Catering College, Sittingbourne who made it to the hard fought final for the second year running. His signature dish was chicken breast with mushrooms followed by chocolate and orange tartlets.

Event organiser Maxine Tarquini of the KM Charity Team said: “It’s inspiring to see so much talent and enthusiasm displayed by these up and coming young chefs. Their food was out of this world and the judges really had their work cut out for them choosing a winner.”

The Young Cooks Professionals contest was open to catering and hospitality departments of colleges in Kent and Medway. Formerly known as Kent Cooks: The Professionals, it is the sister event to Kent Cooks, the county’s official cookery contest for schools and families.

Colleges interested in taking part in next year's event, or businesses interested in supporting the competition, should contact Maxine Tarquini at mtarquini@thekmgroup.co.uk or call 0844 264 0291.

Visit www.kmcharityteam.co.uk or www.youngcooks.org.uk

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