Celebrity chef James Martin has handed an Aylesbury High School pupil a national cooking award for her ‘creative and original’ dish.
Eva Sobonova, 14, won the Red Tractor ‘Make it with Mince’ challenge after impressing judges with her Indian infused meatballs with potato pancakes.
For her efforts Eva will spend the day in London with James at the filming of Saturday Kitchen Live, meet the guests on the show, sample menus and meet the head chefs at some of the capital’s top restaurants.
Eva said she was ‘thrilled’ and ‘couldn’t believe’ she had won.
She said: “Cooking for James Martin was nerve-racking at first, but really exciting.
“Creating my recipe was challenging and great fun too.
“I hope to use the skills I have learnt from entering this competition to continue my cooking in the future.”
The competition was open to 11 to 16 year olds in England, with entrants asked to submit their own original recipes using beef or lamb mince, together with a photograph of the finished dish. Entrants were given a budget of less than £10.
Hundreds of students entered, with 52 selected for six regional cook-offs. The overall champion was chosen from the six regional winners.
James said: “Standards in the competition were extremely high this year, but there could only be one champion.
“Eva’s dish had it all – it was creative, original, nutritionally balanced, showed perfectly the versatility of cooking with mince and packed a punch with all the flavours.
“Eva really is cooking beyond her years and displayed the skill and expertise of a qualified young chef.
“I hope taking part in the ‘Make it with Mince’ challenge has inspired Eva to consider cooking as a future career path.”
The competition aims to inspire young people to get hands-on cooking experience, while educating them of the importance of good nutrition, quality ingredients and having an understanding of where food comes from.
Denise Spencer-Walker, food adviser for Red Tractor beef and lamb, said: “We had so many great entries this year, so choosing one wasn’t easy, but Eva is a very worthy winner.
“With this competition we aim to make cooking accessible for young people, improving their skills and encouraging them to be creative with food and this year was no exception.
“It’s fantastic to see such culinary talent emerge at such a young age.”