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

Anna Carmichael, 15, won the Springboard charity’s annual cooking contest in March, beating 8,200 12 to 16-year-old entrants from across the UK.

The first prize started with a behind-the-scenes visit to Sodexo’s catering operation at Eton College for Anna, her mum Helena and step dad Peter, before an evening meal at Heston Blumenthal’s Berkshire restaurant The Hinds Head.

The next day Anna and her parents went to Royal Ascot, where Sodexo provides catering and hospitality services. Michelin-starred chef Tom Kerridge and two Michelin-starred chef Atul Kochhar were brought in by Sodexo this year to wow diners.

Anna spent the morning with the Sodexo team preparing food for hospitality guests, before lunch with Sodexo craft development director David Mulcahy and Springboard Charity chief executive Anne Pierce MBE in a purpose-built hospitality suite featuring cuisine from French culinary powerhouse Lenôtre.

Anna started her journey to first prize by winning the Springboard 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 and final of the competition, and helped her prepare by giving her a unique work experience opportunity at Goodison Park on match days.

David Mulcahy, Sodexo craft development director and FutureChef head judge, said: “Anna’s dishes were amazing in the FutureChef final, and so it was great to reward her hard work and passion with this experience of Sodexo’s world-class operation at Royal Ascot.”

Anna Carmichael said of her experience: “This was the best day of my life so far. I got to Royal Ascot at about 8.30am and met the kitchen team. It was really different from the kitchens I’ve been in before, for a start because it was in a tent! The team were really lovely and I met Malcolm Emery, the executive chef, who explained the menus, what was going on and what people were doing. I helped to plate up the starters.

“When I finished in the kitchen at about 2pm, I was exhausted but too excited to think about being tired! I actually missed the lunch, but soon afterwards the afternoon tea came out, which was gorgeous. The day finished at about 9pm. It was a long day, but I wouldn’t have wanted it to finish earlier.

“I’ve always liked to cook at home with my family. It’s really good the experience gives you   insight into the industry like this, because you leave school at 16 go to college, and when you get into the workplace you could find you don’t like it. For me, I definitely see myself making a career in the hospitality industry.”

Anne Pierce, chief executive of Springboard Charity, said: “I was delighted to be at Ascot and see our Springboard FutureChef 2014 winner, Anna Carmichael, in action. It was a pleasure to see Anna demonstrate her amazing cooking skills and to be able to work with all members of the Sodexo team.”

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