Mentoring by some of Exmoor’s top restaurant chefs is now underway for finalists in the brand new Exmoor Young Chef Competition being organised by Exmoor National Park Authority.

Finalists from schools all over Greater Exmoor were selected this week following their success in the application process. Over the coming weeks their mentor chefs, who are all passionate about the use of local and seasonal produce, will help the young cooks design a three course meal for two people. The meal will showcase Exmoor ingredients ready for cooking on competition day, Saturday 2nd July 2022, at West Somerset College, Minehead.

Finalists are:

·    Perran Clark from Braunton

·    Logan Scofield from Wiveliscombe

·    Mikaella Harnett from Somerton

·    Jessica Evans from Barnstaple

·    Tom Evans from Milverton

·    Nathan Reardon from Cullompton

·    Eli Hindon from Chipstable

Butlin’s Group Development Chef Werner Hartholt and chef Mollie Foster from Minehead Rotary Club are helping to organise the competition and will be supervising the college kitchen when all finalists cook and present their chosen menu.

Werner, said: “I have been a professional chef for thirty years and have been training young chefs from all over the country. We are hoping to inspire local young people and ignite the passion for cooking that can lead a young person onto great things in a rewarding career within the hospitality industry. With the abundance of fantastic Exmoor produce and top restaurants, along with exciting training and upskilling opportunities available locally for young people, this a great career for those who have a passion for food and great service.”

The winner and runner up will receive invaluable work experience opportunities including a day at Michelin star restaurant Masons Arms at Knowstone and inspirational sessions within the professional kitchen at Butlins Minehead where thousands of meals are served every day.

There will also be the opportunity for personal appearances with top chefs assisting on the Chef’s Stage at the North Devon FOODfest on 23rd October and introductory session with organisers and chefs at Eat Festival: Minehead on 7th August. One finalist will be awarded the chance to appear on a YouTube cooking video with Chef Chin from Chin and Choo (Ziangs at Porlock).

Katrina Munro from Exmoor National Park Authority, said: “The competition will be filmed, along with additional content from local chefs. One film will be shared with secondary schools and colleges, to promote the joys of the hospitality industry and career opportunities for young people, and signpost them to appropriate partners for careers’ support. A second film will be used to promote the local food industry more widely. The Exmoor food scene is alive with talent and our top chefs will be sharing their stories and we’ll be featuring some Exmoor students who are now climbing the ladder in top restaurants and even starting their own businesses.”

We are very grateful to all the chefs, local producers and businesses who have kindly donated their time and prizes in support of our objectives such as H2 Catering Equipment, Bridgewater, Lakeland, Taunton and local producers Exmoor Tea, Selworthy Pantry and Miles who have donated produce for a cream tea hamper for each finalist,” continued Katrina.

The competition is part of a larger project with Visit Exmoor and many partners to develop the Exmoor and Coast Centre of Excellence for Hospitality. which is part funded by the UK Government through the UK Community Renewal Fund as part of the Somerset Business Cluster and Networks initiative.

Emma Thomasson of Visit Exmoor, said: “We are grateful to the support of all partners and funding from West Somerset Opportunity Area, SomersetWorks, North Devon Council, Somerset County Council and Minehead Rotary. This project will help us connect young people with employers as well as training opportunities and support from our partner organisations.”

Richard Lucas of SomersetWorks, said: “We are delighted to support this initiative that helps to inspire young people whilst providing them with the opportunity to develop their skills and gain experience and insight in this exciting sector. SomersetWorks are an organisation that support those aged 15-18 as they move from school into education, employment, and training. For young people that are still unsure of their next steps SomersetWorks are able to support and advise them to make that next positive move.”

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