The Young Chef competition is run by the Mayor of Wandsworth and Wandsworth council’s lifelong learning team in association with borough schools. It nurtures young talent, teaches young people how to cook good healthy food to a budget, provides a chance to learn from the experts and helps young people get a foothold in the catering industry.

Each of the ten finalists won high street vouchers, with Mia Weatherhead, who attends Graveney School, scooping the top prize and a crystal trophy. Mia impressed judged with her menu of salmon and scallop ceviche followed by chicken wrapped in Serrano ham with saffron sauce and chorizo croquettes. Desert was crème Catalana.

Francesca Sparrowhawk from Graveney School was second and Tenley Fuentes from Ernest Bevin was third. The other finalists were: Aisha Syeda (Burntwood School), Remi Ebanks (Ark Putney Academy), Rose Picicco (Southfields Academy), Alife Turner-Smithson & Zakereya Ahmad from (Ernest Bevin College), Jake Gratrick (Saint Cecilia’s) and Maia Blackman from Chestnut Grove Academy.

The finalists took part in a celebratory lunch at the Taste Restaurant, Merton College on May 3. The menu was inspired by the dishes produced by the finalists and students got the chance to prepare the lunch alongside Daksha Mistry, former Master Chef finalist.

As part of the competition, the Young Chefs have already benefited from attending two masterclasses at Billingsgate Seafood School and Compass Innovation Centre in Chertsey.

Support for the competition was provided by the South Thames College catering school and major catering company Compass Group UK & Ireland, which has been involved with the competition since it launched in 2013. Chefs from Compass judged the final, overseen by Culinary Director, Compass Group, Nick Vadis. Joining the team this year was local Instagram Chef and entrepreneur, Sarah Kettel.

Uniquely, this year, the contestants journey was captured through video diaries – part of a short film produced by West Creative that tells the experience entirely from the students perspective.

The Mayor of Wandsworth Cllr Piers McCausland, said: “The Mayoress and I have been greatly impressed by the Wandsworth Young Chef of the Year Competition this year. We saw how it encourages healthy eating, sustainable life skills, whilst being a cultural exploration, great fun and involving teamwork as much as competition. It encourages young people to develop their own alternatives to an endless cycle of take away meals and inevitability of mediocre fast food.”

“As well as teaching children how to cook good, healthy food to a budget, the aim of the Young Chef competition is to give them a taste of professional cooking and give them an insight into how they can develop it as a career.”
Cllr Rory O’Broin,
Cabinet member for skills & employment

The schools who took part are:

St Cecilia’s, Wandsworth
Graveney School
Burntwood School
Ernest Bevin College
Southfields Academy
Ark Putney Academy
Chestnut Grove