Last Saturday, saw the much anticipated kick-off of the National Finals of the Ultimate School Cook Off Competition, presented by the International Hotel School (IHS) and held at their Durban Campus in Westville.
After an exciting round of regional finals which were held in September at IHS's campuses in Durban, Sandton and Cape Town, three winners, Savannah Ashworth from Durban, Layla Morris from Johannesburg and Melissa van Wyk from Cape Town were chosen in their region to compete in the final cook-off against one another in an effort to secure the ultimate prize of a Gourmet Trip to London in January 2015, valued at R300 000.
Each competitor had to cook 2 dishes, the first being Snail Porridge demonstrated by Kyle Govender (Sous Chef of Oyster Box Grill) where the dish had to be replicated by the finalists. Then in the second round, the finalists prepared their own dish from a mystery basket of ingredients, which allowed them a chance to showcase their creativity and skill in the kitchen. These final dishes were then presented to the judges - Executive Chef of Durban Country Club, Xanthos Giannakopoulos; IHS Durban Campus Principal, Genee' Griffiths and Executive Sous Chef of the International Convention Centre, Desmond Davies.
Having already each won a bursary to study the prestigious one year Culinary Arts Programme at the International Hotel School, the finalists were already on a high, but there could only be one winner of the Grand Prize which includes return flights, a 3 night stay at the luxury Draycott Hotel in Sloane Square, dinner at 2 top London restaurants, a trip to Harrods Food Hall, Fortnum Mason, the Borough Market and a visit to a renowned chocolatier; a trip on the London Eye and a sight-seeing tour as well as a behind the scenes tour through a 5 star hotel including a tour of their kitchens.
Overall, the decision was a close one, but with her high marks on presentation, creativity and taste, Umhlanga's Savannah Ashworth (16) from Danville Girl's High School, took the prize!
"I am ecstatic and amazed to be going on this trip. It is an amazing opportunity and I am looking forward to making the most of it," she said.