Dronfield student Leigh Speight is celebrating after fighting off tough competition to reach the national final of the Springboard FutureChef event.
Leigh, 13, who overcame her rivals in the regional contest was mentored by Chris Mapp, owner and head chef of The Tickled Trout in Barlow.
On February 7, at York College, young, aspiring chefs competed in FutureChef 2017 for a place in the national final.
FutureChef directly relates to the national curriculum and is designed to give young people life skills.
It aims to tackle the severe skills shortage facing hospitality by inspiring 12-to-16-year-olds to develop their cooking skills and understand nutrition.
Leigh, a student at Dronfield Henry Fanshawe School, worked with Chris and outshone eight others to reach the fina. She served a delicious menu of poached and roasted lemon and herb chicken, with sweet potato puree, gnocchi, orange glazed carrots, French beans, and light chicken jus.
For dessert she created a lemon posset with piped meringue, caramel popcorn with a cracking surprise,
Leigh said: “I cannot believe I have won. It has been a great experience working with my mentor Chris and in a real restaurant kitchen and I am looking forward to the final.”
Chris worked with Leigh for two weeks running up to the regional finals, offering advice on the menu as well as demonstrating and teaching some kitchen skills.
He said: “Leigh has a clear natural talent and such an amazing ability to stay calm under pressure.”
The pair will now begin working on what will hopefully be a winning dish for the national final.
Head judge Kevin Wicks, from Compass Group UK & Ireland, said: “It was a hard decision to make as standards were so high. Each young personshowed real talent, and I wouldn’t have like to have been in their shoes.
“They all coped with the pressure really well.
“Leigh’s dishes showed creative and used some very technical methods and she was a very deserving winner.”
Leigh will compete at Westminster Kingsway College in London on March 27 in the national final.
For more information about FutureChef visit www.futurechef.uk.net.