FutureChef champion announced
Following a round of local and regional finals, in which more than 7,000 students aged 12-16 participated, the twelve finalists were tasked with cooking a main course and dessert for two from a select list of ingredients, which included lamb and monkfish.Johnson, who's mentor was Damien Tumilty of Café Vaudeville in Belfast, prepared roast monkfish tail with confit potatoes, smoked bacon and wholegrain mustard veloute. His dessert comprised baked chocolate tart with orange ice cream.The judging panel, led by John Williams, executive chef at the Ritz, reached a unanimous decision after sampling the dishes produced on the day, naming Johnson as the clear winner due to his "simple and clean" approach."The food was tasty, the combination of flavours was superb, and he deserved to win the title," said Williams, adding that the overall standards of all finalists' dishes were "first class".Celebrity chef Brian Turner compered the event, which is organised by the Springboard Charitable Trust, and presented Johnson with an array of prizes including £500 courtesy of City & Guilds; a week's work experience at David Everitt-Matthias's restaurant, courtesy of Fairy by P&G Professional; two tickets for the Bunzl Lockhart corporate box at Arsenal FC's Emirates stadium; and a Center Parcs mid-week or weekend break.Runner-up Jonathan Hotchiss, 16, from Arden School in the West Midlands won a two-day Royal Ascot experience for him and his parents, courtesy of Sodexo. Third place went to 16-year-old Ben McKevitt from the John O'Gaunt Technology College, the South East England finalist, who wins a day's cooking with a celebrity chef at a famous London venue including an overnight stay and dinner, courtesy of the Compass Group. Fourteen-year-old Luke Thomas from Connah's Quay High School in Wales came fourth and will enjoy a three-day taster experience in the kitchens of a Thistle hotel.Speaking after the awards presentation, the new FutureChef champion said despite being "really stressed out" in the kitchen, he concentrated on giving the judges "good simple food, where the flavours combined easily and weren't too complex", and praised his mentor Damian Tumilty for "months of training". "If it wasn't for him I wouldn't have been here today," he added.Johnson, who has always wanted to be a chef since spending time in his uncle's restaurant at a young age, will start an apprenticeship at Bangor Technical College in September, while working with Tumilty at Café Vaudeville.