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Smithdon High School

Smithdon chefs cut the mustard in cookery contest

Budding Jamie Olivers and Nigella Lawsons from Smithdon High School showcased their culinary talents in the first round of the 2023/24 Rotary Young Chef Competition.

Our aspiring cooks took on the challenge of creating a healthy meal for two within a £6 budget – and all against the clock.

Eight Year 10 students, aged 14 to 15, took part in the contest, which was held at the school and was judged by King’s Lynn Rotarian John Thorpe and Liam Nicol, who is Head Chef at Caley Hall in Old Hunstanton.

“The students had a time limit of an hour and a half to create the two dishes and to present them to the judges,” said Rebecca Dibble, the Food and Nutrition Teacher who organised the in-house competition at Smithdon, which is part of the West Norfolk Academies Trust.

“The judges looked at the students’ costing lists and time plans to ensure they were accurate, and then gave overall scores based on this, taste, and presentation.”

Two students were then chosen to go through to the next stage of the competition, the Local Heats, which will take place on 8 January at fellow WNAT high school, Springwood, in King’s Lynn.

The pair currying the judges’ favour with their culinary creations were Zaniah Fox and Isabel King, both aged 14.

Zaniah’s winning meal was peri peri chicken with spicy rice, while Isabel’s high-scoring dishes were leek and bacon soup with home-made focaccia bread.

The competition is open to amateur chefs aged between 12 and 16 and aims to help them learn to cook healthy meals, develop food presentation skills, consider food hygiene, develop organisational and planning skills, and develop the ability to cope under pressure.

The Local Heats will be followed by Regional Finals and Cluster Finals, before the National Final takes place next year at St Benedict's School in Alcester on Saturday 20 April.

It was the third time that our school had participated in the Rotary Young Chef competition, with previous Smithdon entrants making it through to the District Final.

“It gives our students an opportunity to be involved in activities outside of school and to meet inspirational people,” added Mrs Dibble. “It builds their confidence and gives them a sense of pride.”