Tough taste test for talented young Fenland chef

A YOUNG chef will be putting his culinary skills to the test when he takes part in the finals of a prestigious competition.

College of West Anglia student Josh Stringer will be lining up with seven other finalists in the Spanish Young Chef of the Year contest when he hopes to win over judges with his menu.

“I was shocked when they e-mailed to say I had reached the final because I didn’t think I would get through,” said Josh, 18, of Walsoken.

The prize for the winning chef will be a working placement in the kitchens of the three-Michelin starred Akelarre restaurant in San Sebastian, Spain.

“I’ve not got a lot of confidence, so I thought I’d enter it and see how far I got and now I’m a lot more confident in my cooking,” he said.

Josh will travel to the Westminster Kingsway College, London, on Saturday, January 22, with his mother Rachel and sister Courtney. He will be assisted by Sian Hardy who is on the same course, a one-year Level 3 Diploma in Professional Cooking, at the King’s Lynn college.

The finalists designed a three-course Spanish-inspired menu for four covers, using specified Spanish fruits and other foods in each course.

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Josh will be preparing Spanish prawn soup, Spanish duck marinated with spices and herbs, with a cherry sauce and olive mash with buttered cabbage.

It is the first time he has entered a competition and said he was nervous about the final.

His tutor, Alex Harrison, said he would also be travelling to London to watch the final.

“It is nice for Josh and the college to get there and have the opportunity to cook in their kitchen.

“It is great for us to compete alongside other top colleges in the field of hospitality and it will be good experience for Josh, but a lot of hard work.”

Josh is planning to hold a Spanish evening at the college’s Endeavour Restaurant later in the year where he can showcase his skills.

“I have been practising my dishes very hard,” he said.

He has no connection with Spain but has become interested in Spanish cooking and said he hoped to work professionally in the industry when he has completed the course, but probably initially in London rather than Spain.

In order to get to the finals, Josh had just a week to prepare and send a menu, including photographs, costings and recipes, to a panel of judges who decided on the final eight.

The winner of last year’s competition went on to a working placement at El Bulli, in Spain, which has been named number one by Restaurant Magazine on its world’s best restaurant lists for a record five times.

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