South West Chef of the Year 2018

The South West Junior Chef final was held in Ashburton in Devon in October. There were six finalists, one from each County and I was representing Gloucestershire. I had already spent an afternoon with Gus Ashenford, a chef who runs his own restaurant in Winchcombe to tweak my dishes, and I had practised lots at home, so felt I was prepared.

The cookery school in Devon was amazing; they had a walk-in fridge and a team of staff who washed everything up for us! It was a bit like being in Bake Off, but there were six professional chefs judging us and asking questions as we cooked.

Miss Shannon was in the home-cook final and had cooked her dishes in the morning – so she kindly waited to find out how I got on in the Junior final.

I cooked a chicken, leek and mushroom pie with zesty seasonal vegetables and it all came together really well, even my flaky pastry looked really good, so I was really chuffed I didn’t make any mistakes! Although I didn’t win, I was really pleased for Conor who won – he was cooking next to me and I had been helping him… by eating his leftovers! The judges were all really encouraging and friendly and it was great to meet Michael Caines! The feedback from the judges was that I hadn’t seasoned enough – it is really hard to get this right as chefs use lots of salt and pepper and get it just right without it being too salty!

Eva Bolton-Lake, 11RKB