STUDENTS from Christchurch secondary schools cooked up a storm to decide the finalists for the Junior Cook of the Year competition, held as part of Christchurch Food and Wine Festival.

The students from The Grange, Twynham and Highcliffe, were tasked with coming up with a two-course meal which was healthy and nutritious, as well as tasty.

The competition is sponsored by Christchurch Rotary Club and president David Rogers, was one of the judges alongside TV chef and festival patron Lesley Waters and festival president Mary Reader.

Local chefs Ian Hewitt and Ian Gibbs also judged as they had been involved in launching the competition at the schools.

The judges eventually chose Amy Gordon of Twynham School, Saskia Thorne from Highcliffe School and Tom Noory from The Grange School.

Amy’s winning menu was golden scallops with sunblush mash and greens followed by a ginger, salted caramel, apricot and apple crumble.

Saskia presented Thai beef burgers on fresh homemade white rolls served with a tomato salsa and salad followed by chocolate choux buns served with strawberries.

Tom served up duck breast in passion fruit sauce with new potatoes, carrots and French beans followed by chocolate ‘mug’ dessert with crème fraiche and raspberries.

All three finalists will now face the daunting task of cooking in front of an audience in the demonstration marquee behind the Regent Centre at 9.15am on Friday, May 10 during the Food Festival.

Lesley Waters said: “The standard this year has been really great. There’s been a good mix of styles with a lot of spice featured. What’s particularly nice to see is that some of the students have entered the competition for a second year. It’s good that they have taken on board the comments we made last year.”

The Food Festival takes place from May 10-19. The popular international food market will be held in the town centre on May 11 and 12. Details at