Last year’s winner of the Scottish Borders Junior Chef Challenge, Johnny Streets, had only worked in a professional kitchen for 18 months before entering the competition. At the time, he had started SVQ level 2 in professional cookery as an apprentice at the County Hotel in Selkirk and he has now just finished his SVQ level 3. He can now proudly call himself a professional chef.
The challenge of last year’s competition has inspired Johnny to continue to enhance his cookery skills. He has spent some time at Cocoa Black in Peebles furthering his chocolate and sugar work techniques and is doing a short work placement at the Sheraton in Edinburgh.
Johnny says his employers at the County, Will Haegeland and Trond Dalby, provide him with challenging and exciting cooking opportunities through the two restaurants and the various events that the County does.
From medieval banquets with authentic food, to an American diner menu for the Grease film event, from a Norwegian food festival to creating a menu based on Julia Child’s recipes from the movie Julie and Julia, it has all inspired and further developed Johnny’s skills and cookery repertoire, he says.
The support he has received from Forte Business Consultants and their SVQ assessor, Sarah Dalrymple, has also played a major role in his further development.
Last year, the judges praised all three finalists in the competition, particularly picking out their use of local produce, and Johnny won by the narrowest of margins.
Judge Sandy Neil commented: “His velvety pear and onion velouté, and tomato consommé I could have eaten for ever and a day. His stunning pudding kept me interested in every forkful and left me puzzling ‘how did he do that?’”
Another judge, Sarah Dalrymple, said: “There is no doubt that there is an amazing talent among the chefs in the Borders. I have been incredibly impressed by the standard of the dishes presented to us. It has been an absolute privilege to be part of the judges’ panel.”
Johnny has changed role from competitor to member of the panel of judges of the 2012 Borders Junior Chef Challenge.
“The competition is a must for any junior chef in the Borders,” he said.