From Whitstable oysters to Dover sole, juicy apples to gleaming cherries, one of the aims of the Young Cooks competition is to encourage young people to experiment with Kentish produce.
The Masterchef-style challenge is an opportunity for young chefs across the county to develop their cooking skills and create tasty, nutritious, imaginative dishes – ideally using the flavoursome fare that’s produced right on their doorstep.
And the experts from Faversham food hall Macknade, who have joined the judging panel this year, are particularly keen to see entrants trying out new and exciting ingredients.
“We stock all sorts of weird and wonderful produce, and we really want to see the kids trying and exploring different things, whether that’s something local, seasonal, or more exotic,” explained Rosie Collins, marketing manager of the store in Selling Road.
“Young Cooks is a great opportunity to get kids into the kitchen – we’re excited about being involved as a judge and seeing what they produce!”
The competition is open to any young person aged between six and 19 – and all they have to do to enter is cook something tasty.
There are three categories: primary school children, secondary school pupils, and families, where an adult (not necessarily a relative) helps the child. Entrants need to cook two dishes – or one for primary school pupils – take a picture, and upload the photos and recipes to the Young Cooks website.
Thirteen finalists will be invited to the November final, where they will cook for the judging panel. Four winners will each get a share of the £500 prize money, plus cookbooks and cooking equipment, and the overall champion will cook their menu for a group of local VIPs.
Competition organiser Maxine Tarquini explained: “As well as taste, the panel will be looking at nutritional value, presentation, creativity and use of local produce.
“Kent is known as the garden of England for a reason – our beautiful countryside produces a fantastic array of foodstuffs. Not only does using local produce support both the environment and our farmers, wherever you are in the world, home-grown food always tastes best.”
Young Cooks is supported by NFU Mutual, SE Medical, Golding Vision (part of Golding Homes), Orbit, Benenden Hospital Trust, Best Western Abbots Barton Hotel, Three R’s Teacher Recruitment, Chequers Kitchen Cookery School, Licensing Consultancy Services, The Southern Co-operative, Whole School Meals, Brakes, and East Kent College.
For more information, to see previous entries and to enter, visit www.youngcooks.org.uk.