Masterchef champ seeks out top young talent

Steven Edwards
Steven Edwards
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Winner of BBC TV’s 2013 Masterchef: The Professionals, Steven Edwards, has confirmed he will judge the final of the 2014 Create and Cook Competition,a regional contest to find the best young cooking duo in Hampshire, Sussex and the Isle of Wight.

The Create and Cook Competition, which is organised by fit2cook food education and sponsored by The Southern Co-operative, is open to all 12-14 year olds across the three counties.

The competition celebrates local food and nurtures young talent, challenging entrants to create a two course menu sourcing ingredients from local producers in their county.

Steven, who is head chef at the Camellia Restaurant at South Lodge Hotel in Lower Beeding, was crowned Masterchef: The Professionals 2013 champion after six weeks of incredible cooking and culinary challenges.

His judges included legendary double Michelin-starred chef Michel Roux Jr who described Steven’s food as “great to eat, expertly cooked, presented with certain elegance, clean lines… and it works.”

Now Steven will be applying his skills to judge the young finalists of the Create and Cook competition at the regional final on 26 June at Newlyns Cookery School in Hampshire.

Steven said: “I have been involved with the Create and Cook Competition for the last three years. This competition is unique because it is not just about cooking but being involved with the food journey from field to plate.”

He added: “In the final I am looking for a winner who demonstrates this understanding as well as using technique to get the most from their chosen ingredients.”

Steven will be joined at the competition final by fellow judges Phil Ponsonby, chief operating officer for Food Retail at The Southern Co-operative, national food writer Fiona Simms, chef Andy MacKenzie of Exclusive Hotels Chefs’ Academy and chef Hannah Westcott of Newlyns Cookery School.

The winning duo from each county final (held in May) will cook their menu for the judges, competing for the coveted trophy plus £1000 for their school’s food technology department.

The Create and Cook Competition also aims to connect school food technology departments and teenage pupils with the local food and hospitality industry, opening up opportunities for work experience and future employment.

Steven added: “It’s a great experience being in a cookery competition and when you are young it often gives you the confidence boost you need to pursue cooking as a career. They are great fun but they can also lead to real work opportunities.”

Entries to the 2014 Create and Cook Competition are open to 12-14 year olds across Hampshire, Sussex and Isle of Wight until the end of March via their school’s food technology department. More information is at www.fit2cook.co.uk/createandcook.