Junior Class

Junior finalist 2016, Daisy Taylor

N.B. Entries for the Junior category are now closed.

Take a look at our news page for details of this year’s Junior semi-finals as they take place.


Are you a keen cook aged 11-16?

The Junior category enables young cooks to develop their skills with an unrivalled opportunity to learn from some of the region’s best chefs.

Junior finalists will benefit from valuable mentoring from one of our judges in each county.

Send us your recipe for any main course dish using principally ingredients from the South West of England.  Our judges will select the cooks they would like to invite to each county semi-final to be held during June/July and the winners of the six county competitions will meet at the South West final on Saturday 14th October at Ashburton Cookery School, Devon.

The Junior class is open to 11-16 year olds who will still be at school (in year 11 or below) at the time of the final in October.  Entrants are asked to submit their recipe (including full method) for a main course dish to serve two people, and those selected will be given one and a half hours to prepare and plate up their dish.

At the final, competitors will again need to prepare a main course dish, for two people.  This may be the same dish again or an entirely different dish but it must be based on the same principal ingredients.

We are delighted to be able to offer an invaluable opportunity for each of our county winners to receive mentoring from one of our county judges in advance of the final.  The advice and expertise that our judges will be able to share with the county winners will help them to learn new skills, develop existing ones and, of course, to prepare for the final!

Among other prizes, the overall South West winner will enjoy work experience with two Michelin-starred chef, David Everitt-Matthias in the kitchen of Le Champignon Sauvage, Cheltenham – invaluable experience!

Entries close on Tuesday 23rd May 2017

Junior finalists 2016Last year’s final saw a diverse range of wonderful dishes prepared by our six finalists (pictured).

Left to right:

Ethan Macdonald, The King’s School, Otthery St Mary, Devon

Laura Phipps, Severn Vale School, Gloucestershire

Ashley Gilder, Penrice Academy, St Austell, Cornwall

Abbie Brockway, Lytchett Minster School, Bournemouth, Dorset

Ethan Bull, Crispin School, Street, Somerset

Daisy Taylor, Lavington School, Devizes, Wiltshire

Ethan & HywelThe judges finally named the winner of South West Junior Chef of the Year last year as Ethan Macdonald from The King’s School, Ottery St Mary in Devon, pictured here with judge, Hywel Jones.

Our judges will select entrants to invite to the semi-finals based on:

  • the balance of the ingredients used in their recipe
  • the skills required to create the dish
  • the use of ingredients from the South West region (from any of the six counties making up the South West: Cornwall, Devon, Dorset, Somerset, Wiltshire and Gloucestershire)
  • the creativity of the recipe – they are always interested in why you have chosen a particular recipe.

Important Notes

  • Information about this competition is sent to schools across the South West. You may choose to speak to your teacher about entering or enter directly yourself.
  • Entrants must be aged 11-16 years and still attending school in year 11 or below on the date of the final, 14th October 2017.
  • Competitors must only include elements in their dishes that can be prepared from scratch during the allotted competition time.  With the exception of home-made stocks, no pre-prepared elements will be permitted and if present, will be confiscated or discounted from the judging process.
  • Recipes should be based principally upon ingredients that are grown or produced in the South West of England.
  • Semi-finalists will be asked to bring their own ingredients and equipment to the cook-offs to ensure that they have everything they need.

Melissa at final

“I would really recommend the Junior South West Chef of the Year to anyone who is passionate about cooking. You get to meet amazing chefs and learn so much about the industry. Getting through to be mentored by Matt Durrant, Chef  Lecturer  at Exeter College taught me a lot about the possibilities that can be created from a few simple and local ingredients. My advice would be to have a go, and if you’re lucky enough to win, then take up the opportunities of work experience and demonstrations because they are brilliant.”

Melissa Johnson, South West Junior Chef of the Year 2014

Dates, venues and judges

We are extremely privileged to be joined by a fantastic line-up of top chefs who will be judging the county heats, as outlined below.  We are also very grateful to the following colleges who will be hosting each semi-final as follows:

Click here for further information about each of our judges


Tuesday 27th June, Cornwall College, Camborne (afternoon)


Neil Haydock – Executive Chef, Watergate Bay Hotel

Stephane Delourme – Head Chef, The Seafood Restaurant, Padstow

Mark Devonshire – Chef Lecturer, Cornwall College

Mentor judge: Stephane Delourme


Monday 26th June, Exeter College (afternoon)


Mark Dodson – Chef Proprietor, The Masons Arms, Knowstone

Scott Paton – Head Chef, Boringdon Hall, Plymouth

John Wheeler – Head of Hospitality, Exeter College

Mentor judge: Mark Dodson


Thursday 29th June, Bournemouth and Poole College (afternoon)


Brett Sutton – Chef Proprietor, The White Post, Rimpton

Russell Brown – Director, Creative About Cuisine

Gary Kilminster – Business Development Manager, Essential Cuisine

Philip Swaffer – Chef Lecturer, Bournemouth & Poole College

Mentor judge: Brett Sutton


Wednesday 12th July, Gloucestershire College, Cheltenham (afternoon)


David Everitt-Matthias – Chef Proprietor, Le Champignon Sauvage

Gus Ashenford – Chef Proprietor, Restaurant 5 North Street, Winchcombe

Renark Cousins – Chef Lecturer, Gloucestershire College

Mentor judge: Gus Ashenford


Wednesday 28th June, Bath College (afternoon)


Liam Finnegan – Head Chef, The Castle Hotel, Taunton

Chris Cleghorn – Head Chef, The Olive Tree, Queensberry Hotel

Bridget Halford – Head of Hospitality, Bath College

Mentor judge: Liam Finnegan


Tuesday 11th July, Wiltshire College Trowbridge (afternoon)


Hywel Jones – Executive Chef, Lucknam Park, Bath

Rob Potter – Head Chef, The Manor House Hotel, Castle Combe

Mentor judge: Hywel Jones

Each semi-final will take place during late afternoon.  Click here for further information about each of our judges

South West Junior Chef of the Year 2016, Ethan Macdonald, demonstrating his skills with Michael Caines in the Cookery Theatre at the Exeter Festival of South West Food and Drink 2017


The final will be held on Saturday 14th October 2017 at Ashburton Cookery School, Ashburton, Devon and will be judged by a selection of chefs that make up our finals judging panel, click here for the full list of judges


Entry is via an online entry form and entrants must attach a copy of their recipe (including the full method) for their chosen dish.  Click here to go to the entry form.

Entries close on Tuesday 23rd May 2017

(For junior class only -entries for all other categories close at a later date)



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