NINE eager chefs stepped up to the hot plate and cooked a two-course meal against the clock as the Rotary Young Chef of the Year competition got under way.

The teenagers, who were representing five different schools, were taking part in the first stage of the annual contest at the Bournemouth and Poole College.

They each had an hour and a half of cooking time to produce a main course and pudding that would tempt the tastebuds of the judges.

The contest was won by 16-year-old St Peter’s pupil Joshua Bonifacio, who produced a dish of pan-fried salmon with vegetable risotto. He will go on to a district competition and potentially a regional and national contest.

Runner-up was fellow St Peter’s pupil Emily Robinson, who cooked a haddock dish and chocolate fondant.

Third place went to 14-year-old Bournemouth School student Dylan Jones, who impressed with a dish of scallops with a cider beurre blanc sauce and a pear, pecan and chocolate crumble.

The other competitors Farahmuz Asghari, Mairi Holmes, Sinead Phillips, Matt Dowden, Lisa Ball and Jackson Warriner were also praised by the judges.

Bournemouth and Poole College tutor Gary Kilminster, who was one of the judges along with Colin Nash of the Three Tuns in Bransgore and Westbourne Rotary Club president Julian Sandy, said: “They all did exceptionally well. It’s difficult coming from a school or home environment into what is essentially a professional kitchen, with different equipment and intense heat.”

Greg Singleton, of the Rotary Club of Westbourne, said: “This is a great competition, which is about the development of young people, increasing their skills and their interest in cooking.

“You can see from the quality of what they produce how worthwhile the competition is.”

Winner Josh said: “I really enjoyed it, it was a good experience. It was my first ever cooking competition.”