Young Harpenden chefs compete in mincemeat cook-off event

TWO Harpenden pupils have no beef with making mincemeat of a challenging national cook-off competition.

Talented Elisheba Anderson and Cherise Adams-Burnett, pupils at St George’s School, are finalists in the Red Tractor beef and lamb Mmmake it with Mince Challenge 2010.

Celebrity chef James Martin recently announced that Elisheba, of Year 9 and Cherise, of Year 11, got through to the final heats after they pitted their culinary skills against hundreds of other teenagers from across the country. The budding chefs will travel to Cambridge to compete in one of six regional final heats from December 1-3.

A spokeswoman for the competition said Elisheba, “wowed James and the judges with her delicious savoury dish of Bobotie Parcels and Golden Rice,” while Cherise also impressed with spicy meatballs. Close to 1,000 teens took part in the contest, with 49 selected for the finals.

She said it was “very unusual” to have finalists from the same area let alone just one secondary school, “so there must be a talented bunch from that school.”

Head of food technology at St George’s, Heidi Brodie, said she was “absolutely thrilled” at the girls’ success. She added: “It just shows how enthusiastic and keen the pupils are to get involved. Elisheba and Cherise are both very excited about competing in next month’s final.”

James Martin said: “I’ve been blown away by the standard of entries we’ve received. From new twists on old favourites to mind-blowing flavour combinations, the recipes have shown real imagination and flair, making my job as a judge really hard. The shortlisted entries are really strong and I’m convinced we’ve found more than a few culinary stars.”

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The television chef will join a panel of experts judging the finals, with the national winner to receive the grand prize of going behind the scenes to be a chef on the BBC’s Saturday Kitchen.

The mince challenge is a cook-off aimed at 11-16 year olds who are passionate about cooking or pursuing a career in the food industry. Now in its fifth year, the contest was launched on behalf of beef and lamb farmers in England. It requires students to design and submit their own original recipes using beef or lamb mince.