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8th March 2022

FutureChef competition announces record number of female finalists

Written by: Edward Waddell
Almost 70% of finalists in a national competition to find the UK’s most talented young chefs are female, suggesting that more young women are being inspired to seek careers in the culinary sector.

Hosted by UK hospitality charity Springboard, the competition is supported by chefs including Clare Smyth and Tom Kerridge. FutureChef is a school-based programme that supports the development of life skills while inspiring young people to pursue an exciting career within the world of hospitality.

The regional heats took place last month identifying the 12 of the most up-and-coming young chefs from across the UK and Ireland. The finalists will battle it out to be crowned champion in the national final being held in London on Monday 14 March 2022.

Jodie Cochrane, 18-year-old winner of FutureChef 2020, said: “After winning Springboard’s FutureChef competition, I’ve been able to pursue my dream job as a professional chef. I’m so grateful to have been given this platform to showcase my passion for hospitality, learn from experienced chefs, and develop my own skills. Ultimately, this experience has given me the confidence and ability to secure a fantastic apprenticeship programme at the very start of my career.”

Springboard is leading the way in giving people of all gender and backgrounds the tools and mentoring needed to thrive in hospitality, with its FutureChef competition just one example of how this is being done.

Smyth added: “The important thing is having visible representation. It’s not something that occurred to me when I was younger, I just wanted to work with the best chefs in the profession and there were almost no women at the top in those days — it was mainly men, so all my mentors were men.

“I try to make sure that I mentor my team. It’s important to do what we can to keep this generation in the profession so they can make it all the way to the top, as that will help change things."