All entrants did us proud

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During the meat and fish tasks the junior chefs were put to the test.

It is all well and good to carry out the requirements for a dish you have practised repeatedly and perfected, but to debone a leg of lamb and fillet both a flat and round fish, puts great strain on already stressed-out contestants.

These tasks were especially interesting. The vegetable task at Philiphaugh’s Plant To Plate festival required one savoury (vegetable dish) and one sweet (fruit dish). The candidates were completely out of their normal working environment, having to work with very basic, rudimentary kitchen facilities, but to top that, they were also put into two teams with chefs they had never met before. Very difficult!

Derek Johnstone, head chef at Chez Roux in Gullane’s Greywalls Hotel, was the primary judge at the event, and was incredibly impressed by the standard of the dishes produced. He was particularly impressed by the strawberry shortcake dessert, asking if he could ʻhave the recipe.

The strawberry shortcake stack, with fresh strawberries and cream and a grape jelly, was prepared by Laura Burrell, Jamie King and Susan Kay.

All the chefs were very close with Derek’s marks, but the two chefs who were given the highest marks in this task were William Cox and Susan Kay.

At Selkirk’s County Hotel, the chefs were given the opportunity to watch meat and fish demonstrations carried out by master butcher Gordon Newlands and Robbie Bunton, head chef at The Woll restaurant in Ashkirk, before carrying out the skills themselves.

Laura Burrell and Matthew Smith were given the top marks by Gordon, although he praised all the chefs for carrying out a complex task which his students were expected to master after a year of training. Robbie Bunton gave William Cox top marks for his fish skills.

“Finally, the icing task took place at the Cringletie House Hotel in Peebles, under the highly experienced tutelage of Patrick Bardoulet. The candidates were offered the opportunity to test their cake chocolate decorating skills.

Again, all the chefs demonstrated great ability, but the reigning chef in this task was Donna Colvine, who impressed Patrick with her very steady hand and artistic flair. I really look forward to seeing what these junior chefs have to show us in the future.