Glasgow student Tabitha Steven has showcased her culinary talents by being crowned the youngest ever winner of Rotary in Great Britain and Ireland’s national Young Chef competition.
Tabitha, 13, wowed the judges with a spectacular three-course menu, beating over 5,000 other young hopefuls to take the prestigious title at an exciting final held at Lincoln College.
“When I found out I had won I was so shocked, I didn’t even think I would place,” admitted Tabitha.
“Before the competition I couldn’t believe how nervous I was, I even felt sick and couldn’t eat my breakfast. Once I got into the competition I found my stride and started to enjoy myself.”
Tabitha impressed the judges with a menu of asparagus soup, seared seabass fillets served with courgetti in a tomato and basil sauce (pictured below) and vanilla pannacotta served with mint roasted rhubarb, rhubarb puree and baked crumble.
“I was inspired to cook at an early age and my dad taught me when I was seven, as he was taught by my gran who wanted him to be independent”, continued Tabitha, a pupil at The High School of Glasgow.
The competition was sponsored by Filippo Berio for a tenth year, and the top prize of a visit to their olive groves in Tuscany was something Tabitha is looking forward to.
“I am very excited about my two day trip to the cookery school in Italy because I have never been to a cookery school so I am intrigued to find out many new techniques. Ever since I was young I wanted to open a patisserie shop and this has made me more determined than ever.”
One of the four judges was Filippo Berio UK Managing Director Walter Zanre, who was full of praise for Tabitha’s dishes, “Her asparagus soup tasted deliciously fresh and full of flavour,” explained Walter. “There was a lot of sea bass on the finalists’ menus today, but Tabitha’s was the most perfectly cooked piece of fish.”
“When I found out I had won I was so shocked,
I didn’t even think I would place.”
“And Tabitha finished her meal with a panna cotta. With my Italian roots, I’m a great lover of panna cotta, and Tabitha’s was one of the best I’ve eaten.”
Morag McIntosh, President of the Rotary Club of Glasgow who sponsored Tabitha, commented: “We’re incredibly proud of Tabitha, she has displayed such incredible talent and a flair for cooking and her final dishes looked delicious. We wish Tabitha the best of luck for the future – we know she’ll go far.”
Rebecca Wilkinson was awarded Dish of the Day for her outstanding smoked haddock soufflé, with Jonny Smith and Miranda Watson finishing second and third respectively.
Rotary’s Young Chef was created to give young people across Great Britain and Ireland the chance to display their culinary talents, while discovering the importance of healthy eating.
The competition is open to anyone aged 11-17 and entrants compete to make it through to the local and regional heats, in the hope of making it to the national final.
Previous competitors of Rotary Young Chef have gone on to enjoy hugely successful culinary careers working with Michelin Star chefs and Martha Collison, a finalist in 2012, even starring on The Great British Bake Off.
Published: Wednesday 31st May 2017