Nadira Chaoui with her glass award trophy in the foreground

Young Chef of the Year prize won by Fulham Cross pupil

If you like sushi, and the prospect of teriyaki chicken with sticky rice excites you, make sure you ask Fulham Cross Girls’ School pupil Nadira Chaoui to prepare it.

She has just been crowned Hammersmith & Fulham Young Chef of the Year 2020, beating a dozen students from six borough schools in the finals staged at West London College.

Participating schools were asked to put forward their two most promising students for the annual competition, now in its 12th year. The young hopefuls, aged between 12 and 14, prepared their favourite dishes in the college kitchens, limited to a total budget of £7 for either starter and main, or main and dessert.

See all the pictures from the event on our Flickr photo gallery

Dishes on the judging table prepared by Nadira Chaoui as her winning entry
Nadira's winning dishes - assorted sushi starter and teriyaki chicken main course

Video: Young Chef of the Year competition 2020

Chefs make the call

A judging panel of top chefs was led by Gerrard Madden (Head Culinary Chef at Wembley Stadium, and formerly chef at Fulham FC).

Assisting him were:

  • Andy Needham (Chef Patron at L’Amorosa, Hammersmith)
  • Danny Bowen and Cecily Darling (senior chefs at River Café, Hammersmith)
  • Harvey Trollope (Executive Head Chef at Sam’s Riverside, Hammersmith)
  • Dipna Anand (Director and chef at The Brilliant, Southall)
  • Miranda Greg (nutritionist).

Nadira Chaoui received the glass trophy as overall winner for her assorted sushi starter and teriyaki chicken main course, with the prize for most nutritional meal going to Zoe Kemp, of Hammersmith Academy, for her mackerel pate starter, followed by Spanish tortilla.

Competition winners, judges and VIP guests standing in three rows at the end of the competition
Young Chef of the Year 2020 competition winners, judges and VIP guests with H&F Mayor, Cllr Daryl Brown (centre)

Fantastic and proud

“Fantastic food, fantastic effort – we’re so proud of you,” said Cllr Larry Culhane, H&F Cabinet Member of Children and Education, who watched the finals alongside H&F Mayor, Cllr Daryl Brown.

Gerrard Madden said the overall standard was impressively high. “You gave us a difficult task,” he said. “There are young chefs here who will, if they chose, succeed in the business. Maybe one day we’ll all be eating in their restaurants!”

Cllr Culhane encouraged the young chefs to continue their culinary training, adding that new businesses regularly chose Hammersmith & Fulham because of its buzzing, vibrant and diverse restaurant scene.

Just desserts

Prizes included Westfield shopping vouchers, a set of saucepans donated by Waitrose at Westfield, cookbooks donated by River Café and Dipna Anand, and work experience stints in the judges’ kitchens.

The finalists and VIP guests were made lunch by West London College’s catering and hospitality students.

“It’s one of the high points of our year; a marvellous opportunity to celebrate the wealth of talent in local schools,” said Denise Charles from West London College.

Young Chef of the Year contestants and judges working in the kitchens
Young hopefuls, aged between 12 and 14, prepared their favourite dishes in the West London College kitchens

Other trophies

The Mayor presented the prizes, with an additional trophy to Hammersmith Academy as their Year 7 students designed the competition poster.

The other finalists in this year’s competition were:

  • Malak Abuqamar (Fulham Cross), butter chicken
  • Natalie Alsayed (Phoenix High), mojadara
  • Muhamad Barre (Queensmill School), pasta bolognese
  • Frankee Benstead (Cambridge School), burgers
  • Heavenli Blake (Phoenix High), chicken marjores
  • Jaya Charles (Phoenix High), chicken fajitas
  • George Gardner (Hammersmith Academy), potsticker dumplings
  • Tia Junior (Fulham Cross), chicken curry
  • Sophie Rennie (Godolphin and Latymer), Vietnamese chicken
  • Ahmed Sabir (Queensmill School), chicken fillets
  • Elen Standing (Godolphin and Latymer), Thai chicken pie.

Past winners of the H&F Young Chef of the Year trophy have prepared dishes including mapo tofu curry noodles, miso sea bream with wasabi pie soufflé, stuffed chicken with sweet potato puree, baked salmon with Mediterranean rice, chicken roulade filled with tarragon and pork, and frizzled pancetta with chicory.

Dessert presented on a plate
Dessert as prepared by one of the competition entrants

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