School chef could have recipe for success

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Holly presenting her winning dish. Pic © James Kennedy Photography

A Liverpool woman is cooking up something special after making it through to the finals of the LACA School Chef of the Year award.

Holly Charnock, of Woodlands Primary School in Formby, was triumphant in the North West Regional heat of the competition, which secured her spot in the grand finale next week.

The 33-year-old chef told JMU Journalism: “Things have changed from when I was in school. It was all a lot of more processed and convenience food. Now we cook everything from scratch with all fresh ingredients, we don’t use premade packets or sauces. Kid’s palettes are more refined now, they want better quality food.

Now she hopes her signature dish, a budget-inspired braised beef tortellini with a tomato and basil sauce, balsamic reduction and a parmesan crisp, will be enough to win the judges hearts and surely fill their stomachs.

Holly explained her inspiration, saying: “With meat I always like to use very part of the animal. I wanted to use the cheaper cuts of meat since we don’t all have the money to go out and buy expensive meats all the time. I wanted to show you can take the cheapest cuts of meat and make something really tasty.”

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Holly’s biggest supporters are the pupils she cooks for and they have been very encouraging while she worked out the kinks of her menu.

She said: “They love it, they keep asking when they can try it again. I’ll change it a little bit and have them see which they prefer. They’re all really excited and keep wishing me good luck for next week.

“To be honest, meeting all the other chefs and seeing what they’re cooking, I’m made up just to get to the final. To win would be amazing, but I’m just going to do my best, that’s all I can do. It sounds cheesy but I won’t be disappointed if I lose.”

The finals take place next week on March 5th at Stratford Upon Avon College.

About Charlie Burgess, JMU Journalism