The Springboard Charity’s FutureChef has a new winner – 16 year-old Catrin Manning from Carmarthenshire, who won the 2018 National Final on Monday.
Catrin, who attends Ysgol Bro Dinefwr school, beat eleven other contestants for the coveted title, wowing the judges with her main of sea bass with textures of bassica and chilli dressing, and a crème brulee with butter shortbread, and a vanilla and balsamic dressing for dessert.
Thrilled about her success, Catrin said, “I’m absolutely speechless, I just can’t believe it… I’m so happy. I practice whenever I can – when I’ve got a fish I’ll fillet it, just to practice elements, just to make sure I did the best I could today.”
Aimee Newman, Catrin’s mum, was overjoyed at her daughter’s success, saying “she’s been training for the last year solidly. You name it, she’s been cooking it. But the whole time she’s been very calm, organised – even today!”
All of the competitors have practiced tirelessly over the last year, and it showed on the day – with the young people remaining calm and collected under pressure. The decision was difficult to make, with such a high standard of cuisine presented to the judges. Catrin was followed closely by the runners up – with Wojtek Czyżewski, 16 from Castlebrae Community High, Edinburgh coming second, and Imogen Pickles, 16, Parkside School in Bradford coming third.
FutureChef has been running since 1999, starting out solely as the competition. The competition consists of four rounds – or heats – in schools, local, regional and national finals. This year saw 12,000 reduced down to the 12 that took part in the final. Though the competition was a great way of getting young people involved in the culinary arts, The Springboard Charity knew it needed to do more. It was from this need that the FutureChef programme was created, a year-round education programme that seeks to educate young people in schools about food and nutrition.
Brian Turner CBE, The British chef and household name, got involved with Springboard and FutureChef from the competition’s inception. He believes the programme is vital for educating young people about nutrition and getting them into the industry.
Brian said, “there are two reasons why we need FutureChef. The first is that there isn’t nearly enough domestic science and food tech being taught today, so young people aren’t learning the basic skills of cooking that sustain their way of living. Second, it encourages people to develop their skills and enter into the industry.”
David Mulcahy, Food Development and Innovation Director at Sodexo UK, Head Judge, was impressed by the quality of the entrants, saying “I think every year we see the standards going higher and higher, this year’s no exception. I think what stood out today was the level of skill at such a young age, the way they understood the brief, to cook, season, flavour and present to such a high standard, it is restaurant standard food – and that’s what won it on the day.”
The programme is supported by multiple industry names, including the Worshipful Company of Chefs, The Savoy Educational Trust, The Hilton Hotels, Hilton London Metropole, Hilton Birmingham Metropole, Tonstate, Compass Group, Sodexo, BaxterStorey, Fairfax Meadow and Nestlé to name a few.
Anne Pierce, the CEO of the Springboard Charity, said, “FutureChef supports the food curriculum in schools and provides a pipeline of culinary talent into the vibrant hospitality industry. The FutureChef competition celebrates young culinary talent and inspires them to enter the exciting expanding world of hospitality.
Terry Tinton, Head of Faculty for Hospitality and Culinary Arts at Westminster Kingsway College, believes that we need to reach children at this formative age, giving them the chance to experience the subject in a timely manner through programmes like FutureChef.
Terry said, “It’s a really exciting industry to go into, takes determination, passion and hard work, but we need to go back into schools. FutureChef highlights the exciting opportunities there are in the industry to move onto a vocational subject, allowing them to work with some fantastic mentors around the country, and get experience in a large Further Education college.”