The Springboard Charity’s FutureChef has a new winner – 14 year-old Jessica Mitchell from Glasgow, who won the 2019 National Final on Monday.
Jessica, who attends The High School of Glasgow beat eleven other contestants for the coveted title, wowing the judges with her main of chicken breast with butternut squash, confit chicken leg and fondant potato, and an apple and frangipane tart with a vanilla pod parfait and caramelised apple for dessert.
Thrilled about her success, Jessica said, “Before FutureChef, I had thought about becoming a chef but I thought it seemed a bit scary. Working with my mentor and having the chance to work in a professional kitchen has encouraged me to pursue it as a career”.
Sue Mitchell, Jessica’s mum, was overjoyed at her daughter’s success, saying “Chuffed! An experience you could never have bought, and it has definitely cemented her wish to work in the hospitality sector. I couldn’t be prouder!”
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. Jessica was followed closely by the runners up – with Ray Gardner, 15, from Woodlands School, London, coming second, and Maisie Speller, 13, Notley High School in Essex 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 14,352 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.”
The programme is supported by multiple industry names, including the Worshipful Company of Cooks, The Savoy Educational Trust, The Hilton Hotels, Nestlé Professional, Compass Group, Sodexo, BaxterStorey, Fairfax Meadow, Delaware North, Hit training, Caterer.com and Bidfood to name a few.
The winner will be taken to the Henley Royal Regatta to work with Sodexo Executive chefs, including two nights’ hotel accommodation, afternoon tea and an evening meal. The second place runner up will receive four tickets for the 2019 Capital FM Summertime Ball in the Delaware North Box at Wembley Stadium as well as a work placement in the VIP area before the concert. Finally, the third place runner up will allow the winner and their mentor to work with a celebrity chef and the Elior development chefs to produce a fine dining event for 100 guests, courtesy of Elior.
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.