Budding Aylesbury chef will represent England at international cookery competition

The 18-year-old will be trying to stand out in a cookery battle with chefs all around the globe

By James Lowson
Wednesday, 19th January 2022, 1:45 pm
Updated Wednesday, 19th January 2022, 1:46 pm

An aspiring Aylesbury chef is set to represent England in an international cookery competition featuring contestants from six different continents.

At the ripe age of 18, Joe Slater, who lives in Aylesbury, will represent his country doing battle with other outstanding young cooks.

The International Young Chef Olympiad. takes place between January 31 and February 6, it spans six continents and 24 time zones.

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Joe Slater

Only the best 10 apprentice and young chefs will advance to the next stage.

Round one consists of a 30-minute skills test and vegetarian pasta dish and crème caramel challenge. Each young chef must make four portions of the main course dish.

To test the young star chefs further in round two they must make a chicken dish using ingredients from a mystery basket.

Participants are granted two and a half hours to produce their best work, before an an independent professional chef judges their efforts.

In preparation for the show each young chef is allowed to lean on a mentor for advice and tips on how to navigate this competitive, international competition.

Joe, who is learning to become a professional chef at Westminster Kingsway College, said: “It’s my first competition and I’m really excited. It’s a good experience and I’m ready for it.

“I heard about it a few weeks before Christmas. I found out the briefs and got on with preparing for it. It’s been going well. I’ve been practising the dish and we’ve put it on the college restaurant menu.”

Joe faces competition from all over the world, participants will be submitting dishes from Canada, the Maldives, Russia, and everywhere in-between.

When not studying for his professional chef diploma, Joe works part-time as a chef at The Chequers Inn, Weston Turville, at weekends.

He said: “I’ve learnt a lot at college over the past three years that is going to help, especially working in both the college restaurants.

I know at colleges local to me there’s a lot more theory. It’s a lot more hands on here and you get the best experience. The facilities are very good and the lecturers

have a lot knowledge to transfer to you.”

The 18-year-old decided he wanted to become a chef at 15 and focused on that career route once he became aware of the specialist cookery course.

He said: “I cooked a lot more in that year and felt this is what I wanted to do. I came to the college and my passion for it has just got bigger. I like creating my own dishes and enjoy the buzz of the kitchen when it’s busy. It can be challenging, but I like the excitement of it.”

WestKing Chef Lecturer Chris Basten, a former chair of the Craft Guild of Chefs, chose Joe to be WestKing’s entrant and is his mentor.

Chris guided former WestKing student Beth Collings, who now works at The Salt Room in Brighton, to win bronze in the competition in 2020.

Chris said: “I’ve been helping and supporting Joe as much as I can, not that he needs much tuition. It’s just about fine tuning what he does in the kitchen.

“He produces consistently good food, has a good manner and calm temperament when he’s cooking and doesn’t flap when he’s under pressure.

“Everybody has a good chance of winning and it can come down to how well you perform on the day. Joe has as good a chance as any.”

Westminster Kingsway College has two public restaurants – The Brasserie and The Escoffier Room –where students like Joe hone their skills.

More information on the college is available online here.