Twenty-one year old Holly Woodman from the Claire Clark Academy at Milton Keynes College has been crowned, Young Pastry Chef of the Year. Holly prepared a stunning menu for a stellar panel of judges comprising giants of the pastry chef world, Mick Burke, Claire Clark, Benoit Blin, Liam Grime, Mark Poynton and Jerome Dreux.
Holly’s winning entry included a chocolate and pistachio soufflé with chocolate sauce and crumb, followed by tropical fruits dessert with tempered white chocolate collars, mango mousse and coconut sorbet and a selection of whole shortbread and orange shortbread petit fours.
When she was declared the winner, Holly said:
“That was completely unexpected! I’ve had a passion for baking for quite some time but have only been learning professionally for six months. Being up against chefs who have done competitions before and work in kitchens, compared to me who works in a shop and trains two days a week, it still feels like a dream. I went in to the competition focused and gave everything I could.”
Holly’s mentor on the Patisserie Course Team Leader, Andrea Ruff was delighted saying:
“I am so pleased for Holly; what a magnificent achievement. Right from the outset she’s showed a professional attitude way beyond her years. She maintains her own impeccable standard which makes her a very special young lady and I am so proud of her whole performance.
Holly only started her course in September so what she achieved today shows what a true talent she has for patisserie. Holly has been inspired by our guest pastry chefs here at the Claire Clark Academy, and while on work experience with Claire Clark at her business, Pretty Sweet in London. Holly now has her sights set on working in a hotel patisserie section to hone her skills while studying for her next qualification here in September 2018.”
The prizes Holly has won would be a dream for any pastry chef including trips to two lavish events organised by the Master Chefs of Great Britain (who organised the competition), a visit to the world famous Koppert Cress herb nursery in Holland, a roll of Chef knives, £250 in cash and the chance to do work experience (a “stage” as it’s known in the trade) with world famous pastry chef, Laurent Duchene, at his patisserie in Paris.
Holly could barely contain her excitement saying:
“Knowing I’ll be going to the stage with Laurent Duchene is a dream, and never would have expected to be achieving that so close to the beginning of my journey. I’m just absolutely over the moon and can’t thank my lecturer Andrea Ruff, the Claire Clark Academy, all the sponsors and the judges enough – everyone down to my parents and friends who have had enough shortbread, mango mousse and chocolate soufflés to last a lifetime have played a part in my winning. This is just the beginning of what I hope will be a lifetime of happy cooking.”
Head of School for Hairdressing, Beauty Therapy, Catering, Hospitality and Events at Milton Keynes College, Maria Bowness, said:
“We were thrilled when it was announced that our own finalist, Holly Woodman, who studies at the Milton Keynes College Claire Clark Academy, had won the competition. Holly and her mentor, Patisserie Course Team Leader, Andrea Ruff worked tenaciously to prepare for the competition and we are so proud of them. On behalf of Milton Keynes College, I want to thank the Master Chefs of Great Britain for giving us the chance to host the David Lyell Scholarship, Young Pastry Chef of The Year competition in the Claire Clark Academy.”
The academy is run under the auspices of Bake Off Crème de la Crème judge, Claire Clark MBE, and offers a range of unique Patisserie courses. Students learn specialist techniques and study in a brand new state-of-the-art pastry kitchen receiving expert tuition. Murray Chapman from the Master Chefs of Great Britain told us:
“Planning and executing the Competition at The Claire Clark Academy at MK College has been a fantastic experience which will hopefully inspire many more Young Pastry Chefs of the future.
One of the main reasons for holding the final in Milton Keynes was the fantastic facilities available to chefs and supporters who were able to see precisely what contestants were doing and to taste their wonderful creations at the end. Congratulations to Holly who is a worthy winner.”
Guest Judge Benoit Blin, Chef Patissier at Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons told us:
“It was a real privilege to have been a guest judge at this year’s Young Pastry Chef of the Year competition and to witness first-hand how keen and competitive all seven finalist were during this tough 3 hour challenge. Unfortunately, you can only pick one winner in competitions and Holly was definitely the most consistent in what she has prepared on the day.
To me they were all winners as for most of them it was their first competition. So long live to the pastry skills in the UK.”
Runner Up – Charlotte Ginn from Cambridge Regional College
Finalists – Congratulations to this year’s 7 Finalists …… Alessandro Coleman (Pinkmans Bakery), Cara Simmons (Stoke Park), Charlotte Gin (Cambridge Regional College), Holly Woodman (Claire Clark Academy), Jennifer Haughey (Hermitage Road Bar and Restaurant), Laura Aylott (The Thatcher’s Arms) and Maxine Otto (Coworth Park).
Judges – Chair of Judge Mick Burke, Claire Clark, Benoit Blin, Liam Grime, Mark Poynton and Jerome Dreux.
Special Mention – Tony (Elvis) Oxley – whose Great Support and help made it all happen.
Canapé reception – Stunning theatre Canapés from George Spires / Sarah King and MK College Students, Rob Kennedy (Compass), Seymour Millington (Chesterfield Football Club), Chloe Saterlay (Infusions Group) and Nick Claxton-Webb (Weeping Willow).
Sponsors – Koppert Cress – Town and Country Fine Foods – Oliver Harvey – Ponthier Fruits and Roller Grill.