Find Local Ingredients
This competition is all about using local ingredients. By local we mean ingredients produced/grown or reared in Oxfordshire. Young cooks should start with finding their local ingredients, doing their research. They need to choose at least 2 local ingredients to use in their menu and one from the Best of our Counties list - see below. Once they have chosen their local ingredients they can go on to design their menus. Starting with ingredients not recipes creates a stronger entry.
Learning about where our food comes from, how it is produced as well as seasonality and sustainability are key learning outcomes of this project. We also challenge young cooks to think about food miles. We are looking for ingredients that are available in May and June as this is when our finals are. Have fun discovering food on your doorstep!
For ideas on where to find local food in Oxfordshire try these websites:
Step 1 Tips for Teachers (click to view)
Use your contacts
Do you know someone with chickens who can give you eggs, who has an allotment for veggies, who goes fishing? Rack your brains for people you know who produce good food!
Create your menu
Time to create your menu. We are looking for creative summer menus that show a flair for cooking, an understanding of seasonality and a good use of local produce.
Design brief. Young cooks should design:
- Two course menu using at least 2 local ingredients and one from the Best of our Counties list
- The menu must have an early summer theme as the finals are in the summer. Try and use ingredients that are in season in May & June
- There is 90 minutes to cook your 2 dishes and you should cook 2 portions of each dish.
- The budget of £25 for ingredients. If you get through to the final we give you money for ingredients.
Have fun being creative......
Step 2 Tips for Teachers (click to view)
Think early summer, May, June - a good website for what is in season each month
Keep it simple
Chef judges often shout - keep it simple! Local ingredients often have great flavour so don't overcomplicate them and let the local flavour shine through.
Use local chefs for ideas
Take a look at local restaurants' menus to see which combinations of local ingredients may work together. See their menus online
Show off your skill!
This is an opportunity to showcase your talent. We are always so impressed with what 13-14 year olds can cook, their skills are incredible. So show off your skills. But make sure they can pull it off!
Use own words
We like the recipes to be written in the young cooks words rather than cut and paste off the internet. This shows they have thought about the recipes and even cooked them.
Do provide photos of the dishes if they have been cooked. This isn't essential and won't affect the judging decision. These can be uploaded with the entry form.
Cook your recipes
Once the menus have been designed, have fun cooking the recipes. Check the recipes work and make amendments. You can see if there is time to add some little extras. Remember they need to cook 2 portions of each dish.
Most schools have a cook off in school to decide which 3 entries to put forward. You don't have to include local ingredients at this stage, only if you get to the final. This is a good chance to get the management team involved in what you are doing! Everyone loves judging and tasting.
Step 3 Tips for Teachers (click to view)
You might want to add some biscuits to your dessert, a sauce to your main or some decoration to add colour. Those little extras will make all the difference to your entry.
Make sure the portion size is right, not too big. Don't cook more than you need. You don't want to throw away good ingredients. We want you to watch food waste.
Tell us your story
The judges want to know the stories behind the menus. Is there a personal connection to one of the local ingredients? Are they tried and tested family recipes? We also want to know a bit more about the young cooks love of cooking and who inspired them - questions in the entry form. This always produces fun answers!
Please check the spelling and grammar on the entry forms before uploading.
Step 4 Tips for Teachers (click to view)
Are your young cooks using a grandmother's recipe? Did they catch their own fish? Are they using spices that are traditional in their family? These are some of the stories we've heard and give menus personality.
Are the young cooks vegetarian or vegan and developed their menu around their tastes? Do they have a religious belief that has affected their choices? These are all stories we have heard.