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Catering students scoop place in prestigious national competition

Two students training to be chefs at Eastleigh College have succeeded in reaching the national final for the coveted title of “2019 UK Young Seafood Chef of the Year”.

During the five-and-a-half hour regional heat in Norwich, 20-year-old Michael Worth and James Tumilty, 18, impressed industry judges with their culinary talent to earn their place in the final. The duo wowed the judges by creating a three-course menu of butter poached plaice, over roasted fillet of hake and pan-fried fillet of cod.

James said: “I’ve wanted to be a chef since I was four years old, and I’m so pleased we have got through to the final of this competition.

“It’s not just about the cooking or the end result; the judges fed back that they were particularly impressed with our teamwork and comms skills during the heat. I was really proud of that because it is something that is often neglected.”

Michael added: “I enjoyed really thinking about using seasonal and sustainable ingredients when we were putting together the menu. At Eastleigh College we are involved in running East Avenue Restaurant for two days a week, and this really helped us as we are both used to this type of time pressured environment. I was still nervous beforehand though.”

Sponsored by Seafish – a public body which supports the £10billion UK seafood industry – the competition offers participants a platform to demonstrate their flair and skills using sustainable seafood. It is open to all full-time and college-based apprentice chefs under the age of 25.

The competition is run by further and higher education university, the Grimsby Institute, in Yorkshire where James and Michael will compete against eight other teams in the national final on Friday 14 June. This year’s final judging panel includes two-time winner of BBC Two’s Great British Menu, Daniel Clifford, who is chef patron of the two–Michelin starred Midsummer House restaurant in Cambridge.

Eastleigh College catering lecturer, Greg Cheeseman, said: “We’re incredibly proud of James and Michael. Competitions like this provide our students with an excellent opportunity for ambitious, budding chefs to gain insight and recognition.”

The winning team will receive a trip to Holland, £500 for each team member and a £1,000 voucher that can be spent on catering equipment for their college, along with a cookbook, trophy and competition medal.

Eastleigh College’s next open evening from 5pm – 7pm on Wednesday 12 June will provide information about the College’s 120 full-time technical and professional courses in addition to a range of part-time courses. As well as catering and hospitality, subject areas include a whole host of career-focused courses and apprenticeships including advanced engineering, dental nursing and business management.