Springboard’s FutureChef crowns 2020 winner!

L to R: Brian Turner CBE, Jodie Cochrane, David Mulcahy

FutureChef has a new winner! 16 year-old Jodie Cochrane from Glasgow won the 2020 National Final at Westminster Kingsway College on Monday. 

Jodie, 16, who attends Trinity High School, beat eleven other contestants for the coveted title, wowing the judges with her main of steamed chicken supreme with stuffed tomatoes, vegetables and Spätzle, served with a wholegrain mustard cream sauce, and her dessert of a gluten-free dark chocolate brownie with peanut butter ice cream, caramelized bananas and butterscotch sauce. 

Elated about her success, Jodie said, “It’s amazing, I can’t stop smiling. It was so enjoyable, more fun than stress. Just such a great experience! I would never in a million years have thought I could win.” 

Julie Christie, Jodie’s mum, was overjoyed at her daughter’s success, saying “It’s been very emotional. I’m so proud of Jodie. I didn’t realise how big FutureChef was until now, but it’s so amazing!” 

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. Jodie was followed closely by the runners up – with Maisie Speller, 14, from Notley High School in Essex coming in second, and Jessica Batchelor, 15, from Aboyne Academy in Aberdeenshire coming third. 

2020 marks the 20th year of the FutureChef competition, which has now expanded to become a nationwide programme. The competition consists of four rounds – or heats – with schools, local, regional and national finals. This year saw 15,358 students involved in the competition from the earliest stages, whittled down to the 12 chefs we saw compete in this week’s final. Though the competition was a fantastic tool for engaging young people in the culinary arts, The Springboard Charity knew it needed to do more to accommodate for the needs of the industry, of schools’ Food Departments, and for the students themselves. It was from this need that the FutureChef programme was created, transforming the initiative into a year-round education programme that seeks to inform and inspire young people in schools about food and nutrition. 

Brian Turner CBE, the British chef and household name, has been involved with Springboard’s FutureChef since 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. Secondly, 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, Hilton, Nestlé Professional, Zenith Diversey Group, Compass Group, Sodexo, BaxterStorey, Fairfax Meadow, Delaware North, Hit training, Caterer.com and Bidfood to name a few. 

David Mulcahy, Food Development and Innovation Director at Sodexo UK and Ireland said; “As a long term sponsor of FutureChef, Sodexo is delighted to support this vital initiative. Each year we are astonished and delighted at the high level of skills and passion from chefs so young. We look forward to welcoming Jodie to the famous Royal Henley Regatta this summer. Becoming a Springboard Business Partner has given Sodexo’s chefs an extra opportunity to demonstrate their skills and communicate their passion to young people who, we hope, will be inspired to follow in their footsteps.”

At this week’s National Final, Springboard announced that for next year, FutureChef would be changing and expanding. The new FutureChef competition will open up more opportunities to the thousands of students who take part every year, by splitting the competition element into two age groups: one for 11-14 year-olds and another for 14-16 year-olds.  

Anne Pierce, the CEO of the Springboard Charity, said, “FutureChef has successfully supported the food curriculum in schools while providing a pipeline of talent to graduate into the hospitality industry for over 20 years. This year is no exception and today’s final of the competition saw 12 hugely talented school children show off their talent, having beaten over 15,000 12-16 year olds who have benefited this year. We continue to innovate, and going forward, FutureChef will provide schools with exceptional resources from age 11 to 16 and our new two tier competition will enable even more young people to learn about food, learn how to cook and provide an exceptional talent pipeline into the industry.” 

Published: 18th March 2020

Last edited: 29th October 2020