An Orkney school chef wowed her way to the title of best in Scotland, using island ingredients to whip up a winning – and healthy – recipe.
Stromness Primary School chef Karen Bevan lived up to her students’ expectations and won her regional final in the School Chef of the Year competition.
She competed in the North East and Scotland region, which means she can proudly call herself the best school chef in Scotland.
Ms Bevan will now compete in the national final in Birmingham, held 12-13 October.
What’s the dish that won over the judges?
Ms Bevan is still playing her culinary cards close to the chest in case any of her UK competitors are listening. But she did share the winning recipe from the regional final.
For the main course, a Taiwanese-style steamed bun with sticky Quorn pieces and crunchy vegetables. The dessert, which rules stated had to be at least 50% fruit: a filo pastry spring roll case filled with a light raspberry cream cheese filling.
She even added an Orcadian spin by using beremeal in the dough.
Orkney school chef ‘”chuffed” to even be in the running
Ms Bevan has been a hit with her pupils for years, and the Stromness community has rallied behind her and kept a close eye on her progress.
Facebook posts about Stromness’s top chef have garnered hundreds of likes and comments from the community. Some supporters have kindly offered to be taste testers while she preps for the final, and one even suggested he’d be willing to re-enroll if it meant cafeteria meals this good.
As for Ms Bevan herself, she’s just trying to keep a level head.
“I am really chuffed to get this far and will give it my all on competition day – I already feel like a winner with the support given to me by the bairns at the school and the wider community, which has been lovely.”
What’s the last hurdle before School Chef of the Year?
Chefs around the country are battling for the last few spots in the final. The Orkney Island Council said that the regional heats will end in September, before culminating in the national final.
A council spokeswoman added that there’s more than just prestige on the line:
“The 2021 champion will receive a £1000 cash prize and the LACA 2021 School Chef of the Year trophy. They will also be awarded a work experience trip and an invitation to a calendar of high-profile catering industry engagements.
The national second and third place winners will receive cash prizes of £500 and £300 respectively.”
The final will take place over two days, on 12-13 October, in Birmingham.