An aspiring teenage chef from Liverpool will spend a day behind the scenes with the Sodexo catering team at Royal Ascot as first prize for winning FutureChef.

Anna Carmichael, 15, shone at the Springboard charity’s annual cooking contest held at Westminster College Kingsway in London on Monday (24 March) to come top out of 12 finalists from around the UK. Anna was one of 8,200 12 to 16 year olds to enter.

The enthusiasm, skill and menu choice of Anna, who goes to Bellerive FCJ Catholic College in Liverpool, impressed the panel of judges led by Sodexo craft development director David Mulcahy. Celebrity chef James Martin presented the prizes together with FutureChef chairman Brian Turner CBE.

Anna started her journey to the podium by winning the local finals, which were judged by Sodexo executive chef Gareth Billington, who is based at Everton Football Club.

Gareth mentored Anna in the regional finals in February at Manchester Fielden College, where she came first to secure her place in the national final.

In preparation for Monday’s contest, Anna and her parents went to Everton’s home ground Goodison Park after school every day for two weeks, where Gareth helped her to hone her skills. She also came in on a match day to get experience in a busy kitchen.

Sodexo sponsor first prize for the Springboard FutureChef competition, which includes a day working with the catering team at Royal Ascot in June, a behind the scenes tour of Eton College with afternoon tea and a gastronomic meal at Heston Blumenthal’s Berkshire restaurant The Hinds Head.

Gareth Billington, Sodexo executive chef, who has mentored three previous FutureChef finalists and one other winner, said: “Anna is one of the best students I’ve ever had, and she absolutely deserves this prize. Her commitment is unbelievable and she’s a really nice person.

“For the two weeks leading up to the national final Anna was dedicated and driven. When it came to Monday there were a lot of judges and a lot of pressure, but she remained focused and handled it really well.

“This is just the start for Anna. We do a lot of work at Goodison Park to bring young culinary talent into the kitchen and give them experience, and we look forward to having Anna back for match days. Everton FC is really supportive.”

David Mulcahy, Sodexo craft development director and FutureChef head judge, said: “The skill and innovation on display from all the FutureChef finalists was of the highest standard, but Anna’s dishes were outstanding.”

Anna Carmichael, on hearing she was the FutureChef 2014 winner, said: “I can’t believe it. There were so many amazing dishes, I’m so shocked I’ve won.”

For the final Anna prepared pistachio and mint pulled lamb, pan-seared lamb, shallot puree, butternut squash fondant, sautéed spinach and turned potatoes with a rosemary jus, followed by warm chocolate and raspberry fondant with raspberry syllabub and chocolate chip cookies.


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