In a tense semi-final at the Yorkshire Wolds Cookery School eight young chefs from across the region cooked for four judges who selected three finalists to go forward to the final on Monday 20 March.
They were: Zacharias Abbott (17) from Stamford Bridge, who is studying level 2 professional cookery at York College, and works part-time at Middlethorpe Hall; Joseph Lees (16) from Whitby, who is studying at Caedmon College, including GCSE catering; and Adam Rothery (17), from Anlaby, who is studying level 2 culinary skills at Hull College.
The Golden Apron is run by James Mackenzie, chef/owner of the Michelin-starred Pipe and Glass, and the Yorkshire Wolds Cookery School and farming company JSR, both based at Southburn, near Driffield, East Yorkshire. The competition is sponsored by food suppliers Cranswick plc and ASDA. The semi-final judges were James Mackenzie; Alison Johnson, Business Development Manager at Yorkshire Wolds Cookery School; Mark Richmond, ASDA’s Innovation Development Chef and Howard Cheshire, New Product Development Manager, Cranswick plc.
In the morning, each semi-finalist had to prepare a dish of their own devising around the theme of ‘My Yorkshire’, with a budget of £10 for two servings, and with just two hours to cook. In the afternoon, they were challenged by James to cook a pudding of apple and rhubarb crumble with spiced ginger custard using ingredients specified by him, but their own method – they didn’t know what the pudding was going to be until shortly before they started cooking.
Zacharias’s main dish was juniper-rolled Yorkshire venison with fondant potatoes, carrot, parsnip, rhubarb and ginger with a port and cranberry sauce; Zach says that he is keen to promote great Yorkshire produce.
Joseph prepared pan-roasted rack of lamb coated in a Dijon herb crust with sweet garlic, roasted roots with a quince and rosemary reduction. He used Yorkshire lamb bred by his granddad.
Adam’s dish was 32-day dry-aged beef fillet and rock oysters with sweet potato gnocchi, seaweed and beef jus. He sourced his meat from Yorkshire and his oysters came from Whitby.
The three finalists will now cook alongside James in the kitchens of the Pipe and Glass for a gala dinner for 70 guests.
Each will work with James and his team to cook a starter-sized portion of their dish, and diners will vote ‘blind’ on each dish. The winner will be given prizes including a work placement with Cranswick plc, working on the ASDA account with their new product development team. Last year’s winner, Kurtus Auty, from Selby, is now working at Gordon Ramsay’s Maze restaurant in London.
The other five semi-finalists were: Daniel Parkes (18) from Louth, who is studying level 3 professional cookery at the Grimsby Institute; Hannah Proffitt (14) from Leeds, who attends Allerton High School where food technology is one of her subjects; Jonathan Sreeves (14) from Walkington, who is a pupil at Beverley Grammar School, and also studies food technology; Joshua Tolson (16) from Bubwith, who is on a level 1 professional cookery course at Selby College; and Elizabeth Waterhouse (15) from Baildon, whose GCSE subjects at Harrogate Ladies’ College include food and nutrition.
James said: “We saw so much creativity today – there’s some really great potential for the future of the industry here. At 14 or 15, I would never have been able to cook like these guy – so much talent!”
Mark Richmond said: “The standard was brilliant – it’s phenomenal what these young people are turning out at such a young age. They should all be very proud.”
Alison Johnson said: “We’re delighted to have these young chefs at the Yorkshire Wolds Cookery School – they produced some remarkably stylish dishes which all tasted delicious.”
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