The past 10 Saturdays have been a labour of love for 9 young people who signed up to join our Junior Chef Academy.
The objective was to create interest and awareness in catering and hospitality, specifically in the kitchen and also to show young people some of the many skills needed to deliver good quality food in a commercial environment.
Chef Trainer Mike Harper worked with the students over the 10 weeks, first starting with knife skills and basic techniques and gradually working up to more technical things such as mousses and choux pastry.
The Students all hail from year 11 of Prince Andrew School which is the only senior school on the island. Although juggling course work and studying for mock GCSEs, they willingly committed to working in the school’s catering block every Saturday morning.
The final week’s format was a competition.
The brief was for each student to create a menu and list ingredients for a two course meal.
They then had to cook the meal in a time frame of two hours and present two plates of each course for the judges to sample.
The atmosphere at the beginning of the day was pretty tense. Soon any nerves were replaced by serious drive and concentration to do the best job and to create a meal to be proud of.
Standards were impressive all round and that didn’t just include the food. Time management, keeping areas tidy and sinks empty all featured.
I would have been proud to have any of these people in working in my restaurant.
Our winnner’s dishes included Hake cooked in foil with lemon and herbs, served with broccoli and bacon mashed potato and a nicely decorated strawberry mousse on a biscuit base with chocolate shavings.
These students really are a credit not only to themselves but also, their families and the school.
I hope this kind of event becomes a regular occurrence on St Helena as there are so many benefits to all.