After weeks of exhausting cookery competitions, practicing signature dishes and getting the recipes just right, Oliver McGeorge, from Ullswater College, has been awarded the title of RIBI Young Chef 2011.
Oliver, 15, secured the judges’ votes on Saturday at Stratford-upon-Avon College, beating off the seven other finalists, with his menu:
Starter: Pan seared scallops with spiced shallot dressing and sakura cress.
Main: Pan fried Yew Tree Farm lamb with sweet potato fondant.
Dessert: Hot plum soufflÃ© with plum compote.
The competition, in association with Filippo Berio, the UK’s leading olive oil brand, has seen thousands of starters, mains and dessert dishes pass before very particular judges at various heats, culminating in the national final.
Oliver not only takes the title but will enjoy the trip of a lifetime to the Filippo Berio olive groves in Tuscany, as well as a day’s placement at Auberge du Lac in Hertfordshire, under the watchful eye of Executive Chef, Phil Thompson.
Parents Christine and Andrew say cooking came to Oliver recently after helping his father in the hotel kitchen where he works: “It is amazing, up until a year ago he was thinking of being an accountant. Now he is very focused on being a chef. He has a place at a cookery school in Marseilles for when he leaves school. We are so proud of him.”
The judges were not easy to please as all live and breathe great food:
Valentine Warner, chef and TV presenter
Susan Low, delicious magazine Editor
Walter Zanre, Managing Director of Filippo Berio
Richard Walker, Managing Director of Wild Harvest
Caitlin Grainger, winner of RIBI Young Chef 2010
Zoe Sing, 15, from St Margaret’s School in Devon, came second with Tia Allen, 16 and from Ashby School in Leicestershire, coming third.
Valentine Warner was very impressed with all competitors and offered his top tip: “This has been a tremendous day, an incredible experience. What I would say to all of them is to taste their food as they go to make sure they really know how the flavours are working together as they should.”
At each stage of the competition, the young chefs must prepare a healthy three-course meal for two people within a budget of just £15 and in just two hours.
Denis Spiller, Chair of RIBI Youth Opportunities, said: “RIBI Young Chef was created to give young people across Great Britain and Ireland the chance to display their creative talents with food, while discovering the importance of healthy eating.
The partnership with Filippo Berio gives the competition an extra edge. Filippo Berio is a family run company with a passion for good, healthy food as well as believing in providing outlets for talent to grow. This shared vision means that all our competitors have a chance to progress their cooking and feel their confidence grow.”
For more information about youth projects in Rotary or to join, visit www.ribi.org.