A prize winning 15-year-old was the star chef at a VIP reception attended by dignitaries including the Lord Mayor and Sheriff of Canterbury last week.
Isabella Lee of Invicta Grammar, Maidstone was pronounced overall KM Kent Cooks 2015 champ after a tense Masterchef style final staged in November. She rubbed shoulders with top culinary professionals at the Best Western Abbots Barton Hotel on Friday for an event to celebrate the success of the annual cookery contest for schools.
Isabella said: “I thought Kent Cooks was a brilliant experience and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Slightly nervous to begin with but once I got into it I was fine and enjoyed it all.”
The youngster prepared her prize winning menu of simmered duck with seasonal vegetables followed by sticky toffee pudding and served the dishes to 20 guests including the category winners of Kent Cooks, the judging panel and Julian Brazier, MP for Canterbury and Whitstable.
Mr Brazier said: “Kent Cooks is such a good initiative. We need to get children cooking again. The disappearance of domestic science from the school curriculum in most schools has left a big gap.”
The celebratory event also honoured Kent Cooks Family category winners Tom Eden, nine and brother Jonny, seven, of Sevenoaks Primary School; Primary School category winner Sofia Bishop, nine, from Culverstone Green Primary School, Gravesham; and Aaron Waller, 13, of St John’s Catholic Comprehensive School, Gravesham who won the Secondary School category.
Members of the judging panel enjoying the hospitality included representatives from JC Rook and Sons, Brakes, Countrystyle Recycling, Orbit South, S.E. Medical, VooServers, Golding Vision, Kent Cookery School, Licensing Consultancy Services, Mini Babybel, Paul Babra curry club and Three R’s Teacher Recruitment.
Andrew Rook of JC Rook and Sons said: “Everybody has been absolutely ecstatic the way the competition has gone and there’s been some real encouragement towards the future. I think the event is going to get bigger and better.”
The Abbots Barton Hotel’s restaurant menu has dedicated a full page to Isabella and her simmered duck recipe which can be purchased by customers for the next two weeks.
Event organiser Lisa Craig of the KM Charity Team said: “Kent Cooks 2016 will be going live in a few weeks so why not get ahead of the competition and start to think about your entry for this year’s contest?”
The annual cooking challenge requires Kent youngsters aged six to 19 years to create a tasty and healthy menu to a set budget. Entrants upload a photograph of their completed dish plus cooking instructions using a simple online form at www.kentcooks.co.uk.
Businesses interested in becoming a judge for this year’s contest can contact Simon Dolby at email@example.com or on 0844 264 0291.