Junior chef cooks up a storm at chef of the year competition

ASPIRING young chef Harry Mason, a student at Lytchett Minster School, has won the title of Dorset Junior Chef of the Year 2024.

Harry, 12, was the youngest competitor in the county final of the South West Chef of the Year competition at Weymouth College.

He was competing against three other aspiring chefs, all aged 14 and 15. His dish of Dorset fillet of beef with Blue Vinny sauce, pommes Anna, burnt Roscoff onions and asparagus was a winner with the judges.

Harry will now go forward to compete in the final against the winners of the five other county competitions at Exeter College in the autumn.

He will be mentored by Sam Hughes, head chef at Rick Steins Sandbanks, as he prepares for the final.

The judges for the Dorset final were Jamie Jones, chef proprietor from Yalbury Cottage, Lower Bockhampton,
and Alan Kelly, chef lecturer at Weymouth College.

The South West Chef of the Year competition, which this year is celebrating its 20th anniversary, has categories for junior chefs, home cooks, professional, young professional and student/apprentice chefs.

It invites entries from Cornwall, Devon, Dorset, Somerset, Wiltshire and Gloucestershire.

Competition co-founder, chef Michael Caines MBE DL, chef/patron at Lympstone Manor in Devon, said the standard of cooking in the junior finals continued to improve year-on-year.

He said: “I’m constantly impressed by the standard of cooking demonstrated by these young chefs.

“They have taken the competition brief and skilfully created some excellent and flavoursome dishes.

“It is a very well-deserved win for Harry, whose use of regional ingredients was excellent.

“Developing new talent remains one of our key drivers with this competition and it’s gratifying to see many of our previous young winners go on to have successful careers in the catering industry.”

He added: “We are committed to promoting culinary excellence, nurturing talent and championing the vibrant food culture of the south west.”

The overall winner of South West Junior Chef of the Year will be offered the opportunity of work experience with Michelin-starred chef, David Everitt-Matthias, at his Le Champignon Sauvage restaurant in Cheltenham.


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