Three gold medals, a national final in London and work experience with Rick Stein were among the incredible achievements of Cornish students at a distinguished regional cooking competition.
Professional Cookery students from Cornwall College Saltash took part in The Major Series South West regional heat, held at South Devon College last Friday.
Former Looe Academy student Ben Thackery, 18, who is now studying Level 2 Diploma in Professional Cookery at Cornwall College Saltash, won the Cold Skills category and revealed “at first I didn’t believe the result”.
“I felt quite calm leading up to the competition then just before it started I suddenly felt quite apprehensive. It’s the first competition I have been involved in, and wasn’t too sure what to expect. We all supported each other on the day giving each other words of encouragement, for us all to win gold in each of our categories was fantastic”.
The competition, sponsored by City & Guilds, is a national competition with four heats across the country open to junior and senior student chefs of varying skill levels providing students with seven different classes to choose from.
Former Liskeard Community College student Charlie Walters, 16, competed in the Major Two Course Challenge requiring him to prepare, cook and present a two course menu comprising of a main course and a desert within 90 minutes.
“It was a fantastic experience, I was really nervous on the day. I’m quite competitive and I like to win so I wanted to do my best. My mum came to watch, which was a great support. Before the competition I had met another student at college, Lauren King, who has also recently been a competition winner, and that really inspired me to reach the same level. I work part time at the Sail Loft in Looe and it was great to go back and tell them my result,” Charlie explained.
“Following the competition, City & Guilds have asked me if I would like to be in the Junior Culinary team which is definitely something I’m going to think about. As a result of winning my class I have reached the National Finals in London in January 2018 which I’m really excited about”.
Fellow student, Chloe Spear, 16, who was previously a student at Combe Dean School, found the competition experience “completely surreal”.
“It didn’t hit me until we were in front of the judges and I saw the other competitors,” she continued.
“I was quite surprised at how nice the judges were, they helped to try and put us at ease. Having to undertake all the tasks live in front of them and present two dishes one for photography and one for tasting was nerve wracking. I feel really lucky to have this experience during my course at Cornwall College Saltash, the lecturers have all been really supportive. I would definitely recommend studying here for anyone looking to follow a career in the catering industry”.
“After the competition one of the judges offered me work experience at Rick Stein’s in Padstow which was the icing on the cake!”
Development Chef and competition organiser, Wayne Harris, thought the “Cornwall College Saltash students were great. I could tell that they had honed their skills beforehand. They were a credit to the College”.
Team Lead for Professional Cookery at Cornwall College Saltash, Chris Penk, said “we are all so proud of what Chloe, Charlie and Ben have achieved, they are fantastic results. They were extremely professional on the day and it was great to see them supporting each other”.
“Results such as these showcase the quality of training and employability skills that our students gain whilst here at Saltash. We support them to enter competitions and work at events we exhibit at so they get a wide understanding of the industry throughout their course”.