News from The Kings of Wessex Academy

Jemma's Chinese dish takes away prize!

18th July, 2017 by Jude Owens

As the end of term draws near, Year 10 student Jemma Matthews has an extra reason to be pleased with her achievements after she was announced the winner of the 2017 Rotary Young Chef competition last week.

Jemma and nine other aspiring chefs competed on Wednesday 12 July 2017 to devise a two course meal of their own concoction within a budget of £15 that would taste and be presented in the most appetising way, all within two and a half hours.

Jemma opted for a Chinese theme and made a starter and main course of sticky belly pork with homemade noodles and spring rolls and a sweet and sour sauce. Jemma really set herself a challenge, as whilst her Mum and Dad sometimes like a Chinese takeaway at home, Jemma does not usually cook Chinese. She prefers pasta dishes, or if she wants to make something easy, but tasty, a tuna melt.

It was certainly hot in the kitchen that day. The hardest part of Jemma’s menu was that she had to make the noodle dough three times to get it right, which was her first noodle dough attempt. A true experience for any chef working under pressure and to deadline. But Jemma really enjoyed being in the kitchen and already knows if things go wrong you need to sort them and so, she eventually made her perfect noodles.

Jemma crafted her recipe from her online research and to make her recipe really stand out, she translated her menu into Chinese (thanks to Google!). She also wanted her presentation to be different and served her dishes on some Chinese style blue patterned plates and acquired some chopsticks. She even bought a beautiful Chinese dress for the occasion.

One of Jemma’s favourite chefs is Jamie Oliver, as she likes the way he cooks locally and believes that anyone can cook his recipes and they taste delicious.

The judges tucked into the various dishes and Jemma got the top score, losing only a few points for a suggested slightly longer cooking of her belly pork. In second place was Charlotte Stephens, followed by Simon Toogood in third place.

Commenting on her success Jemma said: “I am really pleased that I won this year’s competition and I now have more confidence in my cooking.”

As her prize Jemma will receive a set of chef whites and will spend a day with a local chef at the Woodborough Inn in Winscombe and she is also invited to have dinner with the Mendip Rotary Club.

Jemma is not sure yet about her career choices, but she is sure that she will continue to enjoy cooking as a hobby and an enjoyable life skill.

Teacher of Food Preparation and Nutrition, Miss Beacham who organised the competition said: “I am very proud of Jemma. She put a lot of skill, care and pride into her menu and it really was delightful and beautifully presented. Well done Jemma!”

The Academy thanks the judges: John Mander of Mendip Rotary and fellow Rotarian Patrick Simpson and also of food group FSC, along with Abi Banwell, James Simpson and David Worthington.