Last night I was fortunate enough to be invited to the finals of The Golden Apron, a competition looking for the best of young, talented cooks from both schools and colleges across the county. Nothing would have stopped me going, firstly, as it was at the lovely Pipe and Glass Inn and so the chance of seeing James and Kate. Secondly, any chance to promote, participate in or cheer on young people cooking, unmissable.
Over three hundred entered: this was then whittled down to sixteen, and finally the three cooking for us. At the beginning we did not know who was cooking which of the courses to be judged but I can now reveal, after the event .... 15-year-old (yes I did say 15!) Gemma Lawrence from Haxey-Hayfield School. Gemma presented a plate of smoked salmon and a fresh salmon terrine, with hot smoke-cured salmon and a tiny scotch egg, avocado, tomato and pea shoots. The dish was consummately professional in both appearance and taste. What work from someone so young!
Main course cook Josh Whitehead was a little older at eighteen and a student at Leeds Thomas Danby College. Josh has also been working on placement at Anthonys in Leeds, which reflected in both the stylish and technical aspects of his dish. The cider braised East Yorkshire pork shoulder, roast loin with celeriac, apple and black pudding and came complete with a twizzle of liquorice flavoured foam. Undercooked celariac and overcooked black pudding unfortunately let down what was a very competent dish - and I feel churlish just saying that.
And finally, what was a winner for me and ultimately the winner, a great celebration of Yorkshire produce with a Yorkshire tea panna cotta with rhubarb and Parkin, Terry's chocolate orange brownie, crystallised white rose petal and Yorkshire curd and sloe gin ice cream - phew. This amazing confection came from Phillipa Lister (again aged 15) and a pupil at Wakefield Girls High School.
The judges said of Pippa's work "Though standards throughout the final were high, in the end it was her balance of flavours and use of true Yorkshire heritage ingredients which set her apart. She worked calmly, in the kitchen and showed no nerves throughout. " A true chef in the making I think.
|Winner of the 2013 Golden Apron, Phillipa Lister|
A competition of this magnitude cannot come together without massive resource and support, so a collaboration of big players came together to make it happen; Cranswicks PLC (Hull-based leading food supplier) and Sainsburys as main sponsors; The aforementioned Pipe and Glass, Yorkshire Wolds Cookery School, JSR and Strawberry PR plus a host of other in kind sponsors.
Prizes for the finalist and winner included:
- Certificate of achievement for all competitors
- Branded chef’s aprons for all competitors
- Kitchen vouchers for all semi-finalists
- Three finalists will receive work experience at Michelin Star restaurant The Pipe & Glass Inn
- Signed copies of James Mackenzie's book 'On-the-menu' for the finalists
- The Winner will receive ‘The Golden Apron’ trophy and a work placement at Cranswick working on the Sainsbury’s account with their new product development team