Budding chefs cook up a storm at Lawn Manor Academy

By Barrie Hudson - 20 April 2023


Young chefs at Lawn Manor Academy were showered with praise by the judges of a cooking competition.

  • Competition winners Viktor Sliuzar, left, and Shanaika Soares with assistant headteacher Marek Koza and ex-pupil Heidi Alexander

    Competition winners Viktor Sliuzar, left, and Shanaika Soares with assistant headteacher Marek Koza and ex-pupil Heidi Alexander

Pupils in Year 7 were challenged by their head of year, Fiona Harper, to take part in a Masterchef-style event to test their planning, cooking and organisational skills to the limit. 

A total of 21 pupils took part, each tasked with planning a main course with accompaniments and a dessert. 

The competitors, aged 11 and 12, had to be able to cook the dishes entirely independently, stick to a budget and complete the preparation, cooking, serving and washing up within two hours and 45 minutes.

Sarah Smith, Head of Design & Technology, supervised the chefs, and the cookery challenge was run under the school’s I LEARN values, which put independence, attitude and resilience at the heart of how pupils learn and develop. 

The pupils spent an intense morning producing dishes from many countries, including Portuguese custard tarts, Ukranian fried cheesecake, Goan egg curry and Romanian dumplings. Then came the moment of truth, when their final dishes were judged by professional chef Ian Jefferies from New College’s North Star campus, and by Heidi Alexander, South Swindon Labour Parliamentary candidate and a former pupil. 

The winner of the main course section was Shanaika Soares, and Viktor Sliuzar won the dessert category. Runners up were Mara Marinescu and James Sales.

Heidi Alexander said it was a pleasure to return to the very same room where she once used to have cookery lessons, but added that the meals turned out by these pupils put her own schoolgirl attempts to shame.

She said: “I remember putting an apple pastry in the oven in that room, and it completely exploded, sending apple everywhere,” she said.

“But every one of you has turned out the most amazing food, and it’s been really difficult to select the best of the best. I fully expect to see several of you on BBC Masterchef in the not-too-distant future!”

Year 7 leader Fiona Harper said the pupils really enjoyed the challenge, despite the high bar set in terms of planning, organisation and keeping to cost and time restrictions.

“It takes incredible levels of creativity, self-discipline and organization to perform at the level our Year 7s did,” said Ms Harper.

“Most adults would struggle to perform anywhere near as well as they did, and they should be very proud of their achievements.  Each of them could have a great future in the food industry, if they chose.”

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