She may be a little chef but Rosie is a big hit with James

TV chef James Martin with Rosie Hill, 11
TV chef James Martin with Rosie Hill, 11

It broke the bank, but every fancy mouthful was worth it

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SHE may not be tall enough to reach the work surface without standing on a block, but 11-year-old Rosie Hill wowed a celebrity chef with her cooking skills.

The youngster competed against hundreds of other children to reach the regional finals of a prestigious contest.

Rosie was taken to Leith’s College in London where she was given one hour to cook a dish of her choice – an upside-down cottage pie.

This was then judged on originality, nutrition, taste and presentation by TV chef James Martin, who awarded her third prize.

At the end of the day he also signed the block Rosie had been standing on for her to take with her.

Rosie, a pupil of Bay House School in Gosport, said: ‘I was quite nervous. We were in a massive kitchen all working together with James watching us.

‘I thought he was really nice.

‘I watch him on Saturday Kitchen with my dad and he was no different off the cameras as he is on them.’

When first thinking about entering the competition, she had originally gone for a spaghetti bolognese – until she came up with her twist on the old standard at cooking club.

Her recipe was made with British minced beef with onion and red pepper on mashed potato and carrot.

Rosie added: ‘I don’t know if I want to be chef when I’m older, but I’m definitely going to try again next year!’

Catering teacher Richard Bloxsom had encouraged pupils at the school to take part and sent off several entries – with Rosie’s being the one that made it through the first stage.

She was one of more than 800 children aged 11 to 16 who entered the Red Tractor beef and lamb Mmmake it with Mince Challenge 2010. Then 48 finalists were selected to take part in six cook-offs around the country.

Mr Bloxsom said: ‘She was mainly up against children much older than her, so I must admit, I didn’t think she’d do this well.

‘I’m very impressed with how well she did. I’ve taught her for a term and she’s the best in the class – she’s naturally good at cooking, plus she’s dead keen.’

James Martin said: ‘Rosie has done exceptionally well to be named third place. Her recipe was original, nutritious, was presented really well and most importantly, it tasted great!

‘I’m sure that Rosie will go on to enjoy much culinary success in the future.’