Entries for this year’s Scottish Borders Junior Chef Challenge are now in, with 12 young culinary talents devising their own dishes for the public and judges to taste in the coming weeks.
Over the next three months, the competing chefs will be tested on their ability to create, cost and cook their own two-course menus of local, seasonal ingredients, which will be set before a panel of judges and the voting public at their restaurants.
They will also take part in cook-offs, judged by a Michelin-starred and celebrity chef at the Plant-To-Plate Festival in Philiphaugh Gardens near Selkirk on Sunday, September 2, and the Peebles Food Festival on Sunday, October 28. The victor at the Peebles Food Festival cook-off will win a two-week placement at Edinburgh’s Balmoral Hotel, learning under its head chef, Jeff Bland.
The competition, now in its second year of championing the region’s outstanding produce, restaurants and talent, aims to boost the careers and confidence of juniors in professional cookery. All the participating chefs will benefit from having their menus, profiles and restaurants promoted in the Tweeddale Press, and finally in special guide printed for the competition.
The entries this year are: Susan Kay of The Lodge, Carfraemill, Lauder; Donna Colvine of The Lauderdale Hotel, Lauder; Holly Suzanne Purves of Abbotsford House’s new visitor centre and restaurant near Melrose; Matthew Smith of The Horseshoe Inn, Eddleston; Laura Burrell of The Buccleuch Arms, St Boswells; Terry Burgess of The Allanton Inn, Allanton; William Cox of Marshall Meadows Country House, Berwick, and five entrants from Cringletie House and The Tontine Hotel in Peebles, The Woll Restaurant by Ashkirk, and the MacDonald Cardrona Hotel.
During the next weeks, the chefs’ local, seasonal dishes will be tasted at their restaurants by six judges, as well as public diners, who will be asked to fill in a voting form. As well as judging flavour combinations, presentation, cooking techniques and ingenuity, the judges will also focus on the business element of professional cookery.
The results of the public vote and judges’ marks will whittle down the number of contestants for the semi-finals.