For years Aylesbury Grammar School did not offer cookery lessons to its boys, but the subject is now on the curriculum and already reaping unexpected rewards.
Toby Simon, 14, is representing the school in the Bucks, Herts and Oxon heat of Future Chef being held at Aylesbury College today.
He said: “I’m a bit nervous but I’m going to try my best and pretend I’m cooking at home.”
Competitors have to cook a two-course meal costing under £7 for a couple of people in one and a half hours.
Aylesbury Grammar School development director Alison Cox said: “Cooking is a life skill and it is appropriate that the boys learn to cook. It is on our timetable up to Year 9.”
Toby, who is preparing a chicken dish and mango creme brulee, says he doesn’t want to make cooking his career, but he definitely wants to continue cooking a lot and he would be thrilled to get through to the next stage of the competition.
Maddie Berkeley, 13, will be representing Aylesbury High School and hopes to follow in the footsteps of last year’s national winner Sophie Copping who also came from the High School.
Maddie is making a chicken dish followed by butterscotch with apples bread and butter pudding.
She said: “I am a bit nervous, but excited, too. I entered last year. I wasn’t placed but had the best pudding, apparently. I’ve always been interested in kitchens and commercial cooking. I would love to work in hospitality when I leave school.”
Aylesbury High School deputy headteacher Ellie Thompson said: “The food technology department at our school is very strong, all Key Stage Three students do it, and it can be taken further, right up to GCSE level.”
Hartwell House head chef Daniel Richardson and his kitchen team will be mentoring the regional winner, to help them prepare for the final.