TALENTED Christchurch youngsters put their culinary skills to the test, cooking up a storm to win a place in the Junior Cook of the Year competition.

Students from The Grange, Highcliffe and Twynham schools were tasked with coming up with a two-course meal which could be served in the Olympic village.

The competition is sponsored by Christchurch Rotary Club and Mike Devall, President of the Club, was one of the judges alongside TV chef and Festival patron Lesley Waters and Festival President Mary Reader.

Local chefs Adam Scorer and Ian Hewitt and Thomas Huber, the general manager of Christchurch Harbour Hotel, also judged at one school each.

Winners included Michael Legg from Twynham School, Eva Gallagher from Highcliffe School and Callum Bandey, pictured left, from The Grange School.

All three finalists now face the daunting task of cooking in front of an audience in the demonstration marquee – located this year behind The Regent Centre – at 9.30am on Monday May 14 during the Food Festival.

Mike Devall, president of Christchurch Rotary, said: “Having been round the three schools and seen the enthusiasm and culinary skills on display, I feel that our investment in the young people is paying off handsomely.

“All of the participants in the Junior Cook competition are a credit to the town.”

Lesley Waters added: “What I really love about this competition is the way I come away feeling totally inspired.

“The standard just gets better and better and every year I get enough information to write another cook book.

“The students really have excelled and I can’t wait for the final.”