Young Potters Bar and Brookmans Park chefs triumph in St Albans contest

From left: Head Oaklands chef Martin West, competition winner Sophia Lotinga, St Albans mayor France

From left: Head Oaklands chef Martin West, competition winner Sophia Lotinga, St Albans mayor Frances Leonard, Lussmanns Group head chef Nick McGeown, and catering tutor Mark Sharples. - Credit: Archant

A keen 14-year-old cook from Potters Bar has triumphed in a kitchen contest organised by Oaklands College.

Sophie Lotinga, a pupil of Dame Alice Owen’s School, impressed judges, who included professional chefs, with her white chocolate mint mousse.

She said: “Cooking has always been one of my passions and I’m thrilled to have won today, I can’t believe it. I am currently in Year 10 so I am not sure what I want to do after school but art and food technology are my favourite subjects.

“Competitions like this are great experience for anyone like me to get in a professional kitchen and explore their passion for food.”

Twenty-six youngsters from schools across Hertfordshire competed in the college’s Young Chef of the Year contest, held at its Smallford campus.

After submitting recipe ideas, they had just an hour to prepare their chosen dish before judging.

The panel included Nick McGeown, head chef of the Lussmans restaurant group, Oaklands head chef Martin West, and St Albans mayor Frances Leonard.

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Sophie won an engraved trophy, £150 in vouchers, and a day’s work experience.

Ruby Dyer, also 14, a pupil of Chancellor’s School in Brookmans Park, cooked the winning starter - a smoked haddock timbale with a poached quail egg.

The winning main dish was a prawn and coconut curry with cumin rice, cooked by Rosa-Marie Merheb from Finchley.

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