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.
These establishments provided fantastic prizes for the all the budding chefs – including £100 for each contestant, courtesy of the Worshipful Company of Cooks, personally embroidered aprons provided by Russums, embroidered chef jackets from Johnsons Stalbridge Linen, commemorative plates and medals supplied by Bunzl Lockhart and Craft Guild of Chefs, skull caps by Tonstate and a Chef Book by BaxterStory. They will also receive the Full Firmdale Experience, full of exciting learning opportunities – such as kitchen tours and Q&As with Executive Head Chef, Robin Read.
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.”
Fairfax Meadow is proud to be considered a leading sponsor of Springboard’s FutureChef. It is a great programme providing opportunities for the young chefs of tomorrow. We have already developed many great relationships through the programme and long may it continue. Many Congratulations to Catrin – may we wish you the most successful of careers and we hope to see you very soon.