ISS Crowns Plant-Based ‘Young Chef of the Year’ in Lambeth

School caterers, ISS, held a ‘Young Chef of the Year’ competition for pupils in Lambeth this summer term, where participants were challenged to come up with entirely meat-free recipes in a celebration of plant-based cooking and eating.

On 8th July 2021, five finalists from schools in ISS’ Lambeth Cluster partnership competed in a grand final ‘cook off’ hosted by Lambeth College. Assisted by a parent or teacher, they all had one hour to prepare two plates of their dish for the judging panel, made up of representatives from Lambeth College and members of ISS’ chef team.

After much deliberation, Eloise Jones from St Leonard’s Primary School was crowned the winner with her Thai peanut tofu Buddha bowl dish. Juliet Coulber, from Hitherfield Primary School,
was awarded runner up with her non-spicy vegan chilli served with guacamole and tortilla chips.
Both received certificates and prizes to mark their achievements.

To take part, budding young chefs (aged 7 to 11) had to create a recipe, which included a plant-based protein source and carbohydrate accompaniment whilst demonstrating creativity, enticing presentation and clever innovation. Over fifty children submitted entries from five schools within the cluster. These were judged locally by individual school teams, who each selected a finalist to represent their respective schools.

The competition championed healthy plant-based foods in celebration of the benefits they offer to people and the planet. It was all about having fun whilst learning about ingredients and putting key skills, such as maths and English, to use in a practical and fun way.

Simon Jackson, Head Teacher at St Leonard’s Primary School commented:
“I am pleased that ISS organised this event. Cookery is an important life skill and the number of schools with facilities where children can learn to cook has decreased in recent years. Food sustainability is a topical issue, so any opportunity which allows children to learn to cook whilst considering environmental factors is one which should be celebrated. Cookery is creative and offers pupils the chance to excel at something different. Eloise’s achievement may serve to encourage others to develop an interest and have a go themselves.”