Junior Chef

Sponsored by Michael Caines Ltd.

Entry Criteria: Aged 11-16 and still at school in year 11 or below at the time of the final in October.

Brief for entry stage of competition

Main course dish 

To serve two

Time allowed:
90 minutes

To include seasonal and locally sourced ingredients wherever possible.

No pre-prepared elements permitted, with the exception of homemade stocks


Please send us the recipe (including method) for your main course dish by Tuesday 23rd May 2023.  You may also send photographs of your dish if you wish but this is optional.

Notes and the rules of the competition

Selected entrants will be invited to compete at a competition in their own county in June initially and the winners in each of the six counties will meet at the South West final on 7tth October 2023.

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! They will also gain valuable experience of a working kitchen.

Information about this competition is sent to schools across the South West. You may choose to speak to your teachers about entering or enter directly yourself.

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

  • the creativity of the recipe – they are always interested in why you have chosen a particular recipe.
  • the balance of the ingredients used in the recipe
  • the skills required to create the dish
  • the use of ingredients produced locally to you or from the wider South West region wherever possible.

Through our partnership with Springboard FutureChef, we are delighted to be able to offer our six South West finalists
the opportunity to go through to the FutureChef regional final in February 2024, bypassing the local rounds of the competition,
to compete for a place in the FutureChef national final.

Junior category entries now closed for 2023

The county finals

Judges will select a number of entrants to attend a final in each county initially in June.

At the county finals, competitors will be asked to prepare their proposed main course dish for the judges in one and a half hours.  The judges will then select one finalist in each county who will be invited to return for the South West final in October 2023.

The South West final

Those selected for the South West final will be offered the opportunity to receive mentoring from one of our county judges to help them to develop their skills and confidence, as well as to enhance their dish for the final.

The South West finalists will be invited to attend the final at Exeter College in Devon on 7th October, where they will be asked to prepare their same main course dish, for two people, again, but this time with the benefit of any enhancements they may have worked on with their mentors. The principal ingredients used in the dish must be the same as those used in the county finals. Finalists will be given 90 minutes to prepare and present their dish for our finals’ judging panel.

The results will be announced immediately following the final and the winner will be invited to our awards presentation dinner on Tuesday 24th October to receive their award.


Among other prizes, the overall winner of South West Junior Chef of the Year will be offered the much sought-after opportunity of work experience with Michelin-starred chef, David Everitt-Matthias, at his highly respected restaurant Le Champignon Sauvage in Cheltenham.

Rules of the competition

  • Entrants must be aged 11-16 and still at school in Year 11 or below on the date of the South West final (7th October)
  • Entrants must be living or studying in the six counties of the South West: Cornwall, Devon, Dorset, Somerset, Wiltshire or Gloucestershire
  • 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.
  • Entries must include the full recipe (including the method) for your chosen main course dish. Photographs of your dish may also be included with your entry but this is optional.
  • Competitors are asked to bring all ingredients with them.
  • Competitors are advised to bring all of their own equipment and presentation dishes to the competition to ensure that all required equipment is available to them when required.
  • Competitors must be within the stipulated age bracket on the day of the final of the category that they wish to enter.  Proof of age may be requested at the final.
  • Only the names of those selected for the county and South West finals will be publicised (first names only for Junior competitors).  We do not make public the names of any entrants not selected for the finals.
  • Entries must be received by no later than midnight on Tuesday 23rd May 2023.  There will be no extension to this closing date.
  • The judges’ decision is final and no correspondence will be entered into.

Dates, venues and judges


Cornwall College, Camborne

Friday 16th June 2.45pm

Pete Murt – Head Chef, The Seafood Restaurant, Padstow
Tim Kendall – Chef Proprietor, The Barley Sheaf, Gorran and The Rising Sun, Altarnun
Clyde Conellan – Chef Lecturer, Cornwall College

Mentor judge:
Pete Murt/Tim Kendall


Exeter College

Friday 23rd June 3.30pm

Mark Dodson – Chef Proprietor, The Masons Arms, Knowstone
Scott Paton – Head Chef, Àclèaf, Boringdon Hall, Plympton
Matthew Pickett – Head of Hospitality, Exeter College

Mentor judge:
Mark Dodson/Scott Paton


Weymouth College

Thursday 29th June 2.45pm

Sam Hughes – Head Chef, Rick Stein Sandbanks
Russell Brown – Director, Creative About Cuisine
Ronnie Smith – National Account Manager, Essential Cuisine
Alan Kelly – Chef Lecturer, Weymouth College

Mentor judge:
Sam Hughes



Gloucestershire College, Cheltenham

Wednesday 28th June 2.45pm

Richard Davies – Executive Chef, Calcot Manor, Tetbury
Dean Westcar – Development Chef, Thornbury Castle
Scott Morgan – Chef Lecturer, Gloucestershire College

Mentor judge:
Richard Davies/Dean Westcar


Bridgwater and Taunton College, Taunton

Friday 30th June 3.30pm

Chris Cleghorn – Head Chef, The Olive Tree, Queensberry Hotel, Bath
Andrew Swann – Head Chef, The Castle Hotel, Taunton
James Jones – Chef Lecturer, Bridgwater and Taunton College

Mentor judge:
Chris Cleghorn/Andrew Swann


Wiltshire College Trowbridge

Thursday 15th June 2.45pm

Hywel Jones – Executive Chef, Lucknam Park, Bath
Chris Cleghorn – Head Chef, The Olive Tree, Queensberry Hotel, Bath
Stephen Lloyd – Chef Lecturer, Wiltshire College

Mentor judge:
Hywel Jones/Chris Cleghorn