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Third time lucky for jubilant Jo-Ann!

We are very proud to congratulate Level 3 in Professional Cookery student Jo-Ann de Villiers, who took first place in the Regional Final of the Rotary Club Young Chef Competition.

Held on 7 March at Newbury College, competitors from around the South East were tasked with preparing a three-course healthy meal comprising starter, main course and dessert for two people and costing less than £20.00.  Entrants are encouraged think about nutrition, hygiene, organisation and planning and need to be able to cope in a pressurised environment.  

Having already triumphed in two district heats, Jo Ann will now be entered into the National Final later in the year.
We got in touch with Jo Ann to find out more about the competition and how it feels to be a winner!

How did you decide what to cook for the competition and what dishes did you do?
I did a lot of research before deciding what to make. For the starter I did a pea velouté with a parsley infused oil and coconut cream with a parmesan chip. I got the idea from Instagram and added the oil, coconut and parmesan chip myself. For the main, I made an apple and mushroom duck roulade with beetroot puree, roasted carrots, a truffle mushroom sauce and pea shoots. For the dessert I made a chocolate mousse apple with a raspberry coulis centre, chocolate soil and a black forest sorbet. I got this idea from MasterChef.  

Were you apprehensive? How did you handle the nerves/pressure?
I was scared and nervous but with all the practice I did beforehand at home plus the practical exams I did in class, I felt prepared and that helped with the pressure and nerves.

What were you allowed to prep before-hand? How long did you have for each dish?
I was allowed to do a little mise en place (“everything in its place” in French – it means set-up or preparation like chopping vegetables or arranging the ingredients). I only had two hours to make two portions of each dish.

How did it feel when you won? Were you surprised?
It was a nice feeling knowing that I made it to the final and it was very surprising! 

Jo-Ann’s tutor Tony Hopkin wasn’t surprised that she took the top spot once again, saying “Jo-Ann always comes to class fully prepared and completely engages with the task in hand, I’m really pleased that she has got the recognition she deserves and look forward to seeing her compete in the National Final”.


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