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FutureChef - Celebrating the culinary stars of the future

Posted on Monday 19 March 2018

The team at Lockhart felt all inspired last week after supporting and attending the FutureChef final which saw 12 talented students battle it out to take the 2018 title.

Now in its 19th year, the FutureChef competition consists of four heats in schools, areas, regions and then national finals. On the day, it was revealed that 12,000 competitors had been reduced to just 12 for the final cook-off. This campaign also includes a year-round education programme that aims to educate young people in schools about food and nutrition.

This year the brief for finalists was to cook with either free range turkey breast, whole farmed sea bass or Quorn nuggets and it was interesting to see how each of the finalists interpreted and adapted the brief to their own style of cooking.

As part of the event, former FutureChef winners Ruth Hansom and Hayley Cancea did an inspiring cooking demo and you could really see how far they’ve come in just the short-time since they won the event whilst recognising the platform that gave them a springboard to success.

Discover Our Cezanne Tableware

One of the ways we support this competition is by providing Cezanne tableware for dishes to be served on during both the regional and national finals. It’s always good to see the dishes being presented on your products and it is a part of the competition we love to support. We also provided the winning school with £500 of vouchers for Lockhart equipment and a commemorative plate for the mentoring chef. All finalists also received one of our commemorative plates to mark their incredible achievements.

Brian Turner, FutureChef Chairman

At the event, FutureChef Chairman, Brian Turner CBE told us: "These young people are the future of our industry, so it is extremely important that we teach them the skills of today. This competition helps us do just that with inspiring mentors and high-profile judges. The future looks good as we have seen lots of outstanding young people enter this competition. When I am judging FutureChef, I am looking for attitude, passion and skills as we believe that all FutureChef finalists have the potential to succeed in our industry."

The Top 3

Finishing in third place was Imogen Pickles from Parkside School in Bradford. She entered the competition last year and this gave her a thirst for the final. Imogen said: "I feel that my skills are developing at such a fast rate thanks to this competition." She cooked up pan fried sea bass with ratatouille, salsa verde and wilted spinach followed by lemon, orange and raspberry roulade with homemade lemon curd and raspberry puree.

Wojtek Czyewski from Castlebrae Community High in Edinburgh was the runner-up of the event cooking a brown butter poached, smoked and cured seabass, hazelnut crumb, tarragon pomme puree, charred cauliflower and purple sprouting broccoli. During the competition process we discovered Wojtek plans to be a chef when he leaves school and so we will be looking forward to seeing his progress over the coming years.

Catching the eye of the judges and winning the whole competition, was a talented young chef called Catrin Manning from Ysgol Bro Dinefwr School in Carmarthenshire. Catrin wowed the judges with a main course of sea bass with textures of brassica and chilli dressing, and a crème brulee with butter shortbread, and a vanilla and balsamic dressing for dessert.

Watch the moment Catrin Manning won the 2018 title:

Why is FutureChef so important for the hospitality industry?

Anne Pierce, CEO of Springboard UK, commented: "The biggest skills shortage in the hospitality industry is in the kitchen, and so the more we can do to encourage young people to think about becoming a chef as a career the better. Research has shown that 82% of young people don’t know what they want to do as a career, but exposure to the industry, inspiring role models and work experience are key factors in helping the decision-making process. FutureChef enables these vital links and has a track record now of providing a pipeline of talent into the industry. With growing numbers taking part in FutureChef and the focus on apprenticeships, this can only improve the supply."

Do you think competitions like FutureChef help bridge the Chef shortage?

Anne continued: "Programmes like FutureChef (it is so much more than a competition) – its educational resources support the delivery of the school curriculum; professional chefs are engaged to deliver inspiring sessions through demonstrations, have a go activities, skills sessions, learning bites; the competition is the culmination of the activities and helps to inspire and encourage young people to enter the industry – it’s incumbent on industry to get involved and nurture that talent – FutureChef alone can’t do it, it needs industry support and chef engagement in particular."

Are there any previous FutureChef winners who have really stood out for you?

Anne also commented that: "Ruth Hansom is an obvious superstar – went on to be National Young Chef of the Year; winner of Apprentice Chef and Young Chef of the Year Awards with Craft Guild and represented Team GB at Worldskills last year." Anne went on to say,"But there are plenty of others – Luke Thomas, Tom Hamblet, April Partridge, Hayley Cancea, Conor McClean, Conor Blades, Lucy Wigmore, Bronwen Jenkins, Eden Allsworth to name a few."

Explaining what is looked for as a judge, Anne added "The ultimate measure is taste – but alongside that will be nutritional content and menu planning, work method, cleanliness/hygiene, knife skills, food preparation and cooking techniques; skill levels; presentation skills; timeliness."

You can find out more about FutureChef and see how you can support the young talent of tomorrow here.