YOUNG chefs battled it out in front of an audience for a prestigious title as part of this year’s Christchurch Food and Wine festival.

The finalists in the Junior Cook of the Year competition cooked up a storm in the demonstration marquee on Monday.

The Year 10 students – Grace Voller from The Grange School, Rebecca Summers from Highcliffe School and Niall O'Brien from Twynham School – were tasked with producing a two-course meal which could be served to celebrate a special occasion.

All three competitors had their dishes judged by Vicki Hallam, chairman of the Food Festival Committee, David Crumpler, president of Christchurch Rotary Club, which sponsored the competition, and Matt Evers from Dancing on Ice and the Food Network.

The winner was Rebecca Summers from Highcliffe School who cooked five-spice roasted duck breast with cherry and shiraz sauce and sesame noodles followed by mango fool with an almond tuile biscuit and chocolate work.

Vicki Hallam said: “It must have been very daunting for these young cooks to have to create and present their dishes in front of an audience in the same demonstration marquee which had been used by professional chefs just the day before.

“All of their food was absolutely delicious so it was very difficult for us to pick a winner.”

The competition was organised by Mary Reader, president of the Food Festival, on behalf of the Christchurch Food Festival Education Trust.

Two previous winners of the Junior Cook competition – Kirsty Maybank, who has just finished five years as a chef at Claridges in London and Ashley Best who is working at The Ritz in London – appeared at the food festival over the weekend.