YOUNGSTERS put their culinary skills to the test in a three-course competition.
It was a tense morning in the kitchen for the six contestants, aged 12 to 16, who were taking part in the Rotary Group Young Chef contest.
The other people, some of who were younger than me, showed amazing talentLauren Kates
Held at South Downs College, in Waterlooville, the event on Saturday featured the winners and runners-up of the Havant and Gosport Rotary individual Young Chef contest.
After a tough tasting, judges Andy Backshall and Janice Wyatt chose Lauren Kates as their winner. Harriet Morgan, from Bay House School in Gosport, will also go to the final.
Winner Lauren cooked a king prawn and compressed watermelon curry, sea bass with minestrone and home-made pasta followed by a tempered chocolate and raspberry mousse.
Lauren, a Year 11 pupil at The Petersfield School, said: ‘The contest was really good and I was organised which was good. I felt confident cooking the meals I chose. The other people, some of who were younger than me, showed amazing talent. I never expected to win.’
Lauren will now go to the Rotary District Final which is being held in Bournemouth on February 27.
She added: ‘I am really excited. I never thought I would get this far.’
Lauren started cooking when she was younger and her passion grew as she took a cooking course at her school.
Competition was tough with 13-year-old Dominic Thompson also putting up some good dishes.
Dominic, who attends Hayling College, said: ‘It was hard, especially cooking in the professional kitchen.
‘But I enjoyed it. This is something I definitely want to do when I am older.’
Judge Andy, who has cooked in kitchens at The Ritz and Buckingham Palace, said he was impressed with standards.
‘All of them showed a high level of method and skill. I have been impressed with how they have produced their courses.’
Members of both Rotary clubs were also impressed with the youngsters, who represented a variety of schools and colleges in the area.
Shirley Varnish, chairman of the youth committee at Havant Rotary, said: ‘I think the young people did their schools proud. It is also fantastic their teachers took time out of their Saturday to support the students.’