Winning Best Presented Dish!

Executive Chef Robert Pearce from Down Hall Hotel, Spa & Estate in Essex mentored 13-year-old student, Alisha Baines, to this year’s final of Springboard’s Future Chef, where she won Best Presented Dish. The finals were held on 13th March at Westminster Kingsway College in London and saw 12 young chefs aged between 12 to 16 battle it out for the top spot.

black and white image of chef in kitchen with student The budding young chef from St Francis's College in Letchworth worked closely with Chef Robert throughout the competition. In the last leg, the 12 finalists selected from a pool of 12,000, were given two hours and 45 minutes to prepare a main course and dessert for a panel of judges, which included 2023 National Chef of the Year Ben Murphy, Nieves Barragan Mohacho and Adam Handling. Alisha's winning dishes comprised of pan-fried rainbow trout, fennel, spring vegetables and chive beurre blanc and pear and rhubarb crumble with shrikhand.

Down Hall's Executive Chef Robert Pearce, comments: "I feel very privileged to be a part of FutureChef, it has a huge influence on young people and can often support them in forming their careers. Now more than ever, the hospitality industry is in need of bright young talent and it's wonderful to see previous FutureChef students now working in kitchens as head chefs and sous chefs. At Down Hall, we know the importance of developing, mentoring and supporting our staff; we have a great team of young, passionate and talented chefs, many of whom I have worked with for several years. To see them continually develop and push their abilities to reach new levels makes me immensely proud."

Springboard's FutureChef is a schools-based programme that inspires the UK's 12-16 year olds to learn to cook, understand food and nutrition, and pursue an exciting career within the world of hospitality. They were judged on workmanship; creativity and presentation; and composition, taste and flavour.

Down Hall Hotel & Spa

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