Competitions

Make it with Mince Challenge 2013

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Denise Spencer

Every year we run a competition to encourage young people to cook, now in it's 8th year, we asked asked Denise, our in-house food advisor, to tell us all about how she runs the days and what it's like to work with James Martin:


The 11-13th November 2013 kicked off the three-day tour for the Red Tractor beef and lamb Make it with Mince competition.  Celebrity chef James Martin and the crew covered over 653 miles judging 56 eager, but nervous contestants from the following heats:  Harrogate, Manchester, Bristol, Cambridge and London.

The finalists came armed with their ingredients, table settings, and in some cases special kitchenalia required to whip up their winning dishes for Head Judge James Martin and I.

James provided the students with a well-received pep talk once ushered into their daunting industrial catering kitchens. We reminded them to taste their creations along the way as seasoning was paramount (unseasoned dishes are one of James’s pet hates)!

The cooking time was set to one hour from start to finish then off they went; peeling, chopping, boiling, mashing and tasting which all took place in perfect silence; not a word was said by any of the students.  You could cut the concentration in the kitchen with a knife!

The end was nearly nigh.  James instructed the students to present their dishes on two plates – one for the judges and the other for the display area where all the families and teachers nervously waited for the announcements.  Time was up and with tools down our photographer took shots of the students holding their prized finished dishes before taking one of their dishes to the display area.

James and I carefully tasted, scored and deliberated before a decision was made on 1st,2nd,  3rd and Highly Commended awards.

The 1st, 2nd and 3rd announcements were made in reverse order and prizes and certificates presented (including signed chefs whites and books). 

After all the euphoria they still had all their washing up to go back to!!!

It was truly a day they will never forget.  We had a selection of high-quality recipes and with top class plate presentations too.  Many of the students surpassed the skills of some Level 1 NVQ catering students.

Over the tour it was so refreshing to see young people cooking delicious healthy meals and enjoying this important life skill.

The next task is for James and me to find an overall National Champion, who will be in receipt of the grand prize.

Find out more about the Make it with Mince Challenge. 

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