Top food critic celebrates Exmoor’s young culinary talent and spotlights the importance and quality of local provenance

Press Release – 10/10/2023

On Saturday October 7th the finals of the Exmoor Young Chef of the Year competition took place at West Somerset Community College.  The event brought together budding culinary talent from the area.  The day celebrated the extraordinary young finalists aged from 12 to 16.  Katrina Nightingale of Wiveliscombe was crowned the Exmoor Young Chef of the Year with Amy Wickens of Rodhuish as runner up.  The challenge emphasised the importance of local provenance in crafting a three course menu in two hours bringing the flavours of Exmoor to the forefront of the culinary world.

Competing under strict competition criteria the finalists which included Oliver Parsons of Yeovil, Sapphire Haddon of Minehead, and Romesh Molligoda of Braunton demonstrated their creativity and culinary passion which left both judges and attendees in awe of the talent emerging from the kitchen.

The Exmoor Young Chef of the Year competition is in its second year and part of the larger Visit Exmoor Centre of Excellence offering a platform to spotlight the dynamic careers in the industry locally.  The experience gained though such events, as well as the mentorship opportunities provided by industry professionals, inspires and provides life experiences for young people as  they journey towards success. Renowned broadcaster, food critic and Master Chef judge William Sitwell paid a visit to the event and was astounded by the talent.  He commented “As someone entrenched in the culinary world, I was genuinely awestruck by the Exmoor Young Chef of the Year competition.  If I hadn’t been told beforehand, I would never have guessed these dishes came from the hands of young talent.  Their culinary skills matched seasoned chefs, delivering dishes on time, showcasing their impeccable organisation and maintaining composure under pressure.  Sitwell continued “But it’s not all about taste.  A truly remarkable chef embodies these traits, and I saw this in abundance amongst the finalists.  Their menus were not only delicious but also innovative, shedding the light on the best of local ingredients.  What Visit Exmoor and their partners are doing here is vital.  Cultivating a rich food culture and bridging the gap between seasoned chefs and young aspirants is crucial to the future of hospitality.  I hope that such inspirational events become that Saturday staple in every town.  Kudos to all involved”

The competition not only celebrates culinary skills of young people but contributes to a growth of a local food culture.  The event is made possible by the collaborative efforts of Visit Exmoor, Exmoor National Park, Minehead Rotary Club, West Somerset Community College, Bridgwater and Taunton College, Petroc College, Brend Hotels and Butlin’s.  The commitment of these organisations shows the dedication of the stakeholders to nurture and support local young people, providing a platform for culinary arts and a driving force to dynamic careers locally in the hospitality industry.

For images follow this link: Credits to Minehead Rotary Club.

For more information contact:
Max Lawrence, Visit Exmoor
Telephone 07860 135271

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