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Young Chefs Shine in Thrilling Final

Reg Johnson final

Young chefs from across Lancashire have basted and baked their way to perfection in the final round of the Reg Johnson Young Chef Schools Competition, held in Blackburn College’s purpose built training kitchens.

Nabil Hamzah and Waseem Iqbal from Blackburn Central High School were crowned the overall winners of the competition, with Matthew Marriott from Haslingden High School taking second place and Meagan Shovelton and Amelia Litherland from St Christopher’s Church of England High School Accrington achieving third.

Held in memory of the late poultry farmer Reg Johnson, the competition was judged by TV Chefs Nigel Haworth and Paul Heathcote MBE, to continue Reg’s passion for encouraging young talent within the Catering and Hospitality industry, engaging with Year 8 and 9 pupils from across Lancashire.

Nigel Haworth said: “It has been quite amazing to see such a high technical standard of cooking from pupils so young and we have been delighted to see their enthusiasm and passion for food.

“Paul and I have been astounded to see such advanced and difficult techniques used within the finals – who would have thought that Year 8 and 9 pupils would be able to make their own ice cream and Tortellini pasta!”

Paul Heathcote MBE added: “It has been a pleasure to see the pupils incorporate fresh seasonal ingredients into their dishes and demonstrate such patience and advanced technical ability. I know that Reg would have been so proud of what we have achieved and we hope that the competition will continue to go from strength to strength.”

“Thank you to our fantastic sponsors; Blackburn College; Johnson and Swarbrick; Northcote; Heathcote and Co; Hive Business School; Lancashire Enterprise Adviser Network; The National Festival of Making; Ribble Farm Fare; Future U; Sousvide Tools.”

Nigel added: “We are really proud of all the pupils who have taken part and grateful to Blackburn College for providing us with such excellent facilities and support throughout the competition.

“We were so impressed with the standard of cooking and professionalism shown by the pupils that we added three last minute prizes to commend their work; ‘Outstanding Chicken Dish’ went to Aaishia Abdulgani and Saira Surgeon from Pleckgate High School; ‘Outstanding Cleanliness’ went to Daisy Sanderson and Grace Simpson from Bowland High School and ‘Outstanding Dessert’ was awarded to the overall winners Nabil Hamza and Waseem Iqbal.”

Marc McCrone, Teacher of Food Technology at the overall winning school Blackburn Central High School said: “We have thoroughly enjoyed taking part in The Reg Johnson Young Chef Schools Competition.

“It has provided a fantastic opportunity to introduce young people to the idea of Michelin-starred cooking and has excited and inspired them.”

Waseem and Nabil’s winning dish of Goosnargh chicken with herb tortellini, asparagus tips and garden peas followed by rhubarb crumble with rose scented ice cream will be reproduced and on sale at Cafe Northcote for The National Festival of Making, held in Blackburn over the 12th and 13th May 2018.

As the winning school, Blackburn Central High School will receive a piece of catering equipment and continued professional development sessions. Waseem and Nabil have also won a meal for six at Northcote from the acclaimed tasting menu.

Marc added: “Waseem and Nabil have worked so hard and they are absolutely delighted to have won. The whole school will be thrilled with the boys’ achievement – thank you to Blackburn College and see you next year!”

3 May 2018, 10:14 AM