Committed to nurturing young local talent and to highlighting opportunities for careers in the hospitality sector, we introduced the Cornish School Chef competition to local schools last year.
It was an intensive process that started in September 2017 with videos about the profession and details about the competition sent to students from Brannel School, Penrice Academy, Richard Lander School and the Roseland Academy. Head Chefs from the Brewery’s estate of pubs, inns and hotels visited the students to mentor them alongside their teachers.
The competition began with students writing about their favourite dish before ten students from each school were selected for Round One in October 2017, which involved cooking a main course for two from a list of ingredients provided by local suppliers including Abbotts Catering Supplies, Chaffins, Fish for Thought and Westcountry Foods Ltd. Personalised chef whites were provided for all of the students by Abbotts.
The Head Chef mentor then chose eight students to make it to the next stage of the competition. Round Two took place in November 2017 when the students, in a one hour competition, made a dessert of their choice for two, from a list of ingredients provided. This resulted in mentor head chefs Wes Pratt from the Rashleigh Inn, Richard Jenkins from The Globe in Topsham, Max Savage from Havener's in Fowey and Kevin Rouse from the Brewery’s Visitor Centre choosing two students from each of the schools.
Brannel’s Rona Hunt and Amelia Gardner; William Turner and Maisie Craddock from Penrice; Isabelle West and Abbie Harrison from Richard Lander and Joshua Lewis and Garnet Scott from the Roseland were chosen to represent their schools at the finals.
On January 23rd, the finals took place at Cornwall College and saw the eight young students with dreams of being the next Jamie Oliver battle it out in a two-hour cooking competition.
Each student had to cook a starter for under £5, a main course from a list of ingredients provided by local suppliers and a dessert of their choice.
Aged between thirteen to fifteen years, the students had spent the last few weeks planning their menus, trialling the food on family and friends, tweaking the recipes with their teachers and mentors, experimenting with taste, texture and presentation of the food.
Over two hours of wafting aromas, the bustle of pots, pans, steam and heat in a tense atmosphere, the eight finalists put their cooking skills that they’d learnt over the last few months to the test.
At the end of the two-hour competition, judges Kirstie Worrall, our Head of Food and Steve Rudd from Cornwall College’s Catering Department were presented with a tableful of delicious food that was very well presented and both were suitably impressed.
Both agreed it was not an easy decision as they sampled a perfectly risen Cornish cheese soufflé; superbly cooked scallops and black pudding presented on a Cornish slate platter; a creamy smoked salmon and prawn risotto; pan fried mackerel with a beetroot salad, spiced potatoes and lemon butter; a gooey rich chocolate fondant with caramelised pears; a crème pâtissière tart with chocolate pastry served with raspberries and caramelised sugar and plenty more.
Finally, Garnet Scott from the Roseland Academy was crowned St Austell Brewery Cornish School Chef of the Year.
Speaking after the event, Kirstie Worrall said; “It was a difficult decision and the food quality was outstanding. There were so many wonderful dishes to choose from but Garnet’s food and presentation stood out.
“Her food was as delicious as it was well presented. The starter of sticky chicken wings on skewers with teriyaki sauce was very good and followed by a vegetarian main course of perfectly spiced roasted winter vegetable and home-made flat bread with orange sauce. The dessert was a very original chocolate saucisson.”
A suitably delighted Garnet said; “My Mum and grandma are my cooking inspirations. The food they cook reflects their South African background. I practiced cooking the dishes for the competition with my Mum until we were both happy with the flavour and look. Chocolate saucisson is one of my favourites. It’s actually a cost effective sweet that my Mum’s family used to make with biscuits that were available in South Africa. I decided to experiment and bake biscuits that were as close to the ones they got and I’m so happy with the result.”
As part of her prize, Garnet will now get to cook her three-course meal with Richard Jenkins, her Head Chef mentor and the St Austell Brewery chefs at a special gala evening at the Brewery’s Visitor Centre and her dishes will also become part of our Visitor Centre Specials Board.