25 May 2018
On 10 May, Alice and Abi (Year 9) were placed first in the Oxfordshire final of the Create and Cook competition held at Oxford Brookes University cookery school. Their menu was paella with local crayfish, asparagus and Cotswolds chorizo and a dessert of courgette and chocolate Brownie with raspberry sorbet.
Alice writes about her experience of the day:
We arrived at Oxford Brookes and walked through the restaurant to our kitchen. It was all stainless steel and very professional and set up for four pairs. We put our aprons on and got our ingredients all ready and were introduced to the judges. Then, pair by pair, we went to be quizzed by the judges about our local ingredients. They were a bit apprehensive about how local paella could be, but otherwise seemed satisfied and wished us luck.
We started cooking at 11 exactly and it was crazy right from the start. Abi started on the sorbet and I did the brownies, putting them to one side so we could serve them warm. We worked on the paella together and it was a manic blur of chorizo, stirring and sizzling. The judges were wandering around, giving us intrigued looks and asking cryptic questions which we tried to answer correctly, whilst trying not to burn the rice or trip over the photographer who had a habit of coming up behind us to photograph whatever we were doing. After a very manic last five minutes of plating up as neatly as possible, an hour and a half was up and we could relax… Sort of.
We were welcomed into the restaurant area by a lovely plate of sandwiches which we nervously ate, at the same time straining to hear what the judges were saying just out of earshot. After lunch, it was back to the kitchen to tidy up and then we were called outside to hear the results. We listened nervously as the judges critiqued the other pairs (quite harshly at times) and grew more and more nervous until they came to us. It was the head judge who delivered our feedback, telling us that we’d quashed his paella fears and that it was delicious, and asked for our brownie recipe on behalf of his daughter. Then, after a very suspenseful silence we were announced the winners. A great day was topped off by our goody bags, which included a cookbook, Oxfordshire honey and sauces.