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Aurora's first-ever FutureChef Grand Final

Following on form the internal heats, FutureChef finalists from Aurora Foxes, Boveridge College and Hedgeway attended the first ever Aurora FutureChef Grand Final on 23 February at the Grove Kitchen and Restaurant at Weston College, Weston-super-Mare.

The chefs were given feedback by the judges after the internal competition, so that they could tweak their dishes.

It was a great competition with nine fabulous chefs, including three pairs.


Ben Davis, Food Services Manager at Sodexo and a chef judge tells us about the winners: 

Best solo – Charley – Charley’s main course (Chicken Miso) demonstrated excellent skills of balancing flavours and it was a beautifully executed dish which was worthy of being served in a restaurant. Charley also showed great knife and organisational skills. He also cooked a great looking souffle pancake dessert which had great flavours.

Best duo – Maija and Alex – The fajitas were made well with great flavour and great knife skills demonstrated to make the fresh salad and guacamole. I was also impressed with the presentation of the dish. Their dessert was also executed perfectly, Eton mess can often be made to be too sweet, but theirs was perfect and was a perfect dish to have after having the spicy fajitas.

Overall winner – Lily-Ann - She produced two perfectly executed dishes. Her main course demonstrated a great balance of flavours with the use of different spices. It was the perfect execution of the cous cous which also packed a punch of flavour which was fitting to be served with the Lebanese meatballs. Lily’s dessert also showcased a great take on an apple pie which was cooked perfectly with crispy pastry and it was well balanced with the ice cream and compote. Overall, the two dishes were faultless and showcased a great maturity to produce in a competition environment.

All students received an apron from HiT training, certificates, a small recipe book and a Sodexo Explore notebook and pen.

The winning pair and solo received a cookery book from Sodexo and the overall winner received a cookbook from Springboard as well as an invitation as a guest at the national FutureChef final in Westminster Kingsway College, London on 18 March.

Overall winner

Lily-Ann said: “Winning the first Aurora FutureChef competition is surreal. It feels really rewarding after all the hard work and dedication I have put in over the last few months, I feel really proud of myself. I thought I had no chance of winning after seeing the quality of the dishes the other students were making. 

“When they announced me as the winner I started crying as it was really emotional as I never thought I could win. 

“I made Lebanese Meatballs with roasted vegetable cous cous and homemade Chermoula Sauce, then for dessert I made a puff pastry baked apple rolled in sultanas and cinnamon - served with homemade caramel sauce and a fruit compote. 

“I chose these dishes as I grew up with my mum making these for me, so it means a lot to me and brings back good memories. I also wanted to make them as they are quite difficult, so it was a challenge I set myself. 

“Also, I really love meatballs!”

Lily hopes to go to catering school in London when she graduates from Boveridge College.

High standards

Mike Taylor Springboard Ambassador and Sodexo Learning & Development Manager said: “Not sure about the competitors but my nerves were on edge throughout as I watched them laying out their equipment and ingredients. This was a completely new environment for them - new kitchen, different equipment with industrial hobs and ovens, unlike the domestic ones they were used to. There was calm throughout the kitchen and any nerves certainly weren’t showing.

“The way all the students worked was amazing, the skill levels as high as I have seen in some professional kitchens. The safe ways of working throughout were clear to see, the development of the menus was unbelievable.”

Mark Bedford, Chef Academy Vice Principal said: “It was a real honour to be asked to help you guys judge the final and I must say I was blown away by the standard of all the competitors.

“The technical skills of sauce making, dough work, fresh pasta making and knife skills were very pleasing to observe with such a young group, but also their conduct was exemplary. Although it was a competition, everyone worked harmoniously and more importantly, respectfully and safely.”

Julian Frost-Wilson, Divisional Executive Chef, Stadia, said: "The Aurora Springboard FutureChef Final 2024 was an absolute privilege to be involved with. I would love to be involved with any further events or competitions. My personal favourite dish of the day was the Stuffed Baked Apple - very well cooked pastry, the apple was cooked to perfection and the seasoning from the cinnamon was lovely!"