Making food fit for a king

Competitors at the contest
Competitors at the contest

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A popular student cooking competition is taking on a special royal ingredient as it sets the challenge of producing a wedding breakfast for Prince William and Kate Middleton.

Now in its fifth year, the Portsmouth and South East Hampshire Education Business Partnership’s annual Celebrity Chef Challenge sees teams of students competing in a series of heats held in the professional kitchens of Highbury College.

More than 60 secondary school students from across Portsmouth gathered at Fire & Stone pizza restaurant in Gunwharf Quays for the launch.

Participants are encouraged to create their own two-course menus from locally-sourced, seasonal produce whilst documenting their research – but this year’s competition is proud to add the extra ‘celebrity twist’.

Claire Joliffe, EBP event co-ordinator, said: ‘For 2011, we are celebrating the marriage of Prince William and Kate Middleton by asking students to produce their own Royal Wedding breakfast.

‘We will be looking for culinary ideas and standards of cooking that are literally fit for a king!’

The challenge is open to all students from years seven to 10. After the heats in June, two finalists will go head to head on an open air stage in a grand final that takes place at the start of the Gunwharf Quays Food Festival.

As well as getting their hands on an impressive trophy, winners will be invited to dine at the Langstone Hotel on Hayling Island where their dishes will be featured on the restaurant menu and given a masterclass in professional cooking.

Last year’s winners, Sophie Cufley, 15, and Charlotte Payne, 16, from Springfield School in Drayton, were presented the trophy by chef Raymond Blanc.

Sophie said: ‘Cooking live on stage and being crowned the winners was an amazing experience. We never thought we would win, but we had great fun.’

Schools with teams who want to take part in the challenge should contact Claire Joliffe on (023) 928 3400 or e-mail