12 best young chefs competing to be 2024 Springboard FutureChef champion announced

Springboard UK


Premium Supplier 7th March 2024
Springboard UK


Premium Supplier

12 best young chefs competing to be 2024 Springboard FutureChef champion announced

Young aspiring chefs from across the UK have been celebrating after being crowned regional winners of a competition to find the UK’s most talented young chefs.

Springboard FutureChef 2024, now in its 25th year, is the biggest school culinary contest in the UK. The school-based programme across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, inspires pupils to develop their culinary talent and supports pupils with entry routes into careers in the kitchen.

Aiming to find the UK’s best young chefs and up-and-coming industry stars, FutureChef is an initiative from Springboard – a charity committed to nurturing young talent and promoting hospitality as a great place to work.

More than 13,000 young teenagers across 12 regions went head-to-head in the competition over the last 12 months, with 81 of them making it to the regional finals – which challenged them to prepare a main course and dessert for two people in 90 minutes.

The four-stage cooking competition comprises school heats, local finals, regional finals, and concludes in the National Final. Each stage gets increasingly more challenging, with a specific skills challenge at the final stage. The dishes were judged by a panel of industry professionals, including Michelin star chefs James Sommerin, Adam Handling and Nieves Barragan, as well as more than 300 chefs from across the UK’s hotels, restaurants, and catering venues.

The 2024 winners from each region will now go on to take part in the prestigious National Final, taking place at Westminster Kingsway College, London on Monday 18th March 2024.

This year’s Springboard FutureChef 2024 regional winners, are:

North Scotland region winner, Domhnall Bruce, 14 years old, from Portree High School, Isle of Skye.
Central and South Scotland region winner, Eva Brodie, 15 years old, from Portobello High School, Edinburgh.
North East region winner, Iris Bedford, 13 years old, from Rodillian Academy, Leeds.
North West region winner, Millie Jo Lomax, 15 years old, from Poynton High School, Manchester.
East Midlands region winner, Ella Lovejoy, 16 years old, from Toot Hill School, Nottingham.
West Midlands region winner, Josh Hurd, 15 years old, from Newcastle Academy, Newcastle Under Lyme.
East of England region winner, Lola Sycamore, 16 years old, from Comberton Village College, Cambridge.
Wales region winner, Carys Williams, 15 years old, from Pontarddulais School, Swansea.
South West region winner, Freya Barrett, 16 years old, from Penrice Academy, Cornwall.
South East region winner, Pippa Cooper, 16 years old, from Priory School.
London region winner, Reece Ventura, 15 years old, from St Philomena Catholic School for Girls.
Northern Ireland region winner, Alex Scates, 13 years old, from St. Columbanus School, Bangor.

12 best young chefs competing to be 2024 Springboard FutureChef champion announced
Winner of the East Midlands Region, Ella Lovejoy of Nottingham, said “I am thrilled to have won the regional finals in the FutureChef competition. This journey has been a remarkable opportunity, providing invaluable experiences along the way. This is my second year in the competition, and I owe my progress to the support of my family and teachers; their encouragement has been instrumental in my success.”

Lola Sycamore, winner of the East of England region, Cambridge, expressed “My competition journey has been an incredible rollercoaster. I have been able to develop amazing life skills within a kitchen environment and have been fortunate to work with amazing professional chefs as mentors – guiding me through the craft of preparing high quality savoury and sweet dishes. I am grateful to have the opportunity to compete in the National Final 2024. I am honoured to represent the East of England at such a prestigious event and look forward to meeting the other competitors.”

Josh Hurd, from the West Midlands Region, Newcastle Under Lyme continues “I have really enjoyed taking part in the local and regional FutureChef competition and am so happy to have won despite the fact I felt nervous and under pressure due to the 90-minute timeframe. I am so proud to be representing Newcastle Academy as a finalist and look forward to the National Final.”

Alex Scates, of Northern Ireland added “I can’t believe that I’ve won! It’s just amazing, this whole experience has been fantastic. I worked hard and practiced whenever I could to make sure I did my best, and it’s paid off. I am extremely thankful to my mentor, Chef Cathy Adamson for all her help and support. So excited to have won and now representing Northern Ireland at the London UK National Finals in March.”

Since its inception 25 years ago, when just nine schools and 127 young people participated, Springboard FutureChef has grown significantly – with an incredible 225,000 young people aged 12-16 years old having taken part since 1999. They have learned how to cook, enhance their skills, and gained experience in career opportunities within the hospitality industry. This year’s contest was supported by more than 300 industry chefs around the UK as mentors and judges.

It is now the UK’s largest school culinary competition with many going on to establish themselves within the industry, and a long list of successful alumni including; 2015 winner Tom Hamblett, who was crowned 2023 Masterchef Champion, April Partridge, who won the Roux Scholarship in 2023 and was crowned National Restaurant Awards chef to watch in the same year, and Graeme Cheevers, owner of Unalome in Glasgow, who this year retained his Michelin star for the fourth year.

Chris Gamm, chief executive of Springboard, said:“It is more important than ever to keep the prospect of a career in hospitality at the forefront of the minds of students, teachers, and parents, and the Springboard FutureChef competition has played a massive role in this over the past 25 years, with more than 225,000 students taking part during that time.

“By introducing young talent to the world of hospitality and allowing them to experience the level of creativity that comes with it, the competition has enabled many talented young individuals to enter the industry and discover their passions for what the sector offers. Competitions like these are critical because they bring in talented and motivated workers while promoting the industry. It is also great to see competitors having fun and doing what they love.”

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