A 17-year-old apprentice chef from University College Birmingham has won a national cooking competition. The first part of her prize included spending a day at Henley Royal Regatta on Friday (30 June).
The Michelin-starred restaurant Carters of Moseley were more than happy to take on hardworking Katie Cooper as an apprentice. When she joined the Sodexo team, she prepared food for hospitality diners at the 178-year-old boat racing event after winning the Springboard Charity’s FutureChef competition in March aged just 16.
Sodexo has provided hospitality to around 500 guests each day at the Fawley Meadows and Temple Island areas of Henley Royal Regatta since 2013. Katie worked with chefs in both locations and loved the experience.
As part of her reward, Miss Cooper and her parents were awarded with the chance to visit the Sodexo executive chef at Eton Dorney, Louisa Tinkler, 26. Together, the four enthused about Katie's potential career aspirations as a chef.
Katie was delighted to have met Louisa, Worcester-based, as she won gold in the World Skills Challenge in Leipzig in 2013 in addition to the Sodexo Chef of the Year in 2014.
Katie Cooper is over the moon as she commented:
"It was really nice to meet the head chef here and see how he does things. Everyone in the kitchen really knew what they were doing; they knew how to get on with it, how to get the job done perfectly, and then just carry on and do the next one.
“If it wasn’t for Sodexo coming up with the young chef academy, which I was a part of at University College Birmingham, I wouldn’t do this job so I’m very grateful for that.
“If someone was trying to get in to being a chef at my age, or straight out of GCSEs, then I’d definitely recommend doing something like an apprenticeship because it’s the best thing that’s ever happened to me.”
FutureChef is a nationwide school cooking programme inspiring many young people to learn about food and cooking along with a competition to find the best chef in the country between the ages of 11 and 16.
Katie rose above 9,000 other entrants to win. It's safe to say she has made her parents, Carters of Moseley and her fellow Birmingham citizens beyond proud.
Sodexo chefs provide mentoring to contestants across the UK. David Mulcahy, head judge of FutureChef and Sodexo food innovation director, noted the positively significant impact FutureChef has on young people like Katie:
“Developing young culinary talent is absolutely crucial to the chef industry in the UK, and I’m glad Katie has enjoyed her time with the Sodexo team at a major event like Henley Royal Regatta. It’s great experience for an apprentice.
“At Sodexo we support the Springboard FutureChef competition every year with judging and mentoring at regional and national level.”
Anne Pierce, CEO of the Springboard Charity, is also pleased as she said:
“We are thrilled Katie and her family enjoyed their time at Henley. Thank you, Sodexo, for being such great hosts and sponsors.
“Springboard’s FutureChef saw 9,000 participants in over 600 schools take part this year. It has grown from a simple competition to an educational programme inspiring young people to learn about food and cooking as well as providing a much needed talent pipeline into the industry.”
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