Phoebe Lawson crowned 2022 FutureChef National Champion in mission to find UK’s best young cook

The winner of a national competition designed to find the UK and Ireland’s next generation of culinary talent has been revealed as Phoebe Lawson, 15, following a tense final in London.

Taking place at Westminster Kingsway College yesterday, the final saw 12 of the most up-and-coming young chefs from across the UK and Ireland battle it out to be crowned champion in the annual competition hosted by hospitality charity, Springboard.

The competition, which has seen almost 200,000 young people aged 12-16 take part since it began in 1999, is backed by Clare Smyth and Tom Kerridge and has inspired many to become successful chefs.

From her local final win in North Scotland, Phoebe worked with mentor Chris MacLeod, Chef Manager at Compass Group to hone her skills and create dishes that wowed the judges in every round, including tarragon infused Haulkerton chicken breast, stuffed with McHardy of Stoneheaven spiced haggis, and a tarragon jus, with a selection of winter vegetable and butter fondant potatoes

Taking the crown, Phoebe Lawson saw off 6,051 competitors across the four stages of the competition and will now receive ongoing support, development, and apprenticeship opportunities from Springboard, including the chance to have her recipes published.

Discussing her win, Phoebe said, “This win means a lot to me. It has been months of hard work and it’s amazing that it has all paid off. My mentor, Chris MacLeod, has been so helpful and supportive throughout this experience, and it is the perfect way to say thank you to him. It has also meant a lot of opportunities have come my way, opening up new and exciting career pathways.”

Celebrating Phoebe’s success, her teacher, Kirsty Wilson, said “I have been involved in Future Chef for the past 8 years and there has always been a positive atmosphere around it, however Phoebe’s amazing efforts this year has certainly shone a bright light on the competition. Everyone is delighted for her: family, friends, mentors and staff. As her teacher, there are not enough words to express how incredibly proud I am of her. I hope she will help to motivate and inspire more young people to get involved next year.”

Discussing the importance of the competition, Chris Gamm, CEO of Springboard, said: “We always look forward to our FutureChef competition and love witnessing talented young individuals entering the industry and discovering their passions for what the sector has to offer. This year, it is even more meaningful coming out of such a difficult period for the hospitality sector, which has taken a big hit over the last 18-months.

“With ongoing staff and skills shortages, it is more important than ever to keep the idea of a career in hospitality at the forefront of young people’s minds. The FutureChef competition plays a vital part in introducing new talent to the world of hospitality. Many well-known industry heavyweights have supported FutureChef, from Monica Galetti to Michel Roux Jr, Angela Hartnett, and Clare Smyth. It is simply a great stepping stone into the industry.”

Aiming to find the UK and Ireland’s next generation of culinary talent, Springboard FutureChef is a school-based programme that supports the development of life skills while inspiring young people to pursue an exciting career within the world of hospitality.

The competition called on budding chefs to compete and develop their culinary skills, with different rounds introducing participants to important themes around sustainability, plant-based, and zero-waste cooking.

Springboard is leading the way in giving people of all gender and backgrounds the tools and mentoring needed to thrive in hospitality, with its FutureChef competition just one example of how this is being done.

Alongside this competition, the charity has launched ‘Springboard to 2022’, which is supporting the industry’s recovery from the pandemic. Through various training initiatives, Springboard ensures a skilled and engaged talent pipeline ready for the industry, intending to have 10,000 young people trained and ready for work by the end of 2022.

Springboard also spearheads CareerScope, the industry support hub showcasing careers in hospitality and supporting those within it whose jobs have been affected by Covid. It features careers advice, free training, job listings, and support services – and is at the heart of its work within schools and campaigns to attract young talent.

Please visit the following websites to find out more about these initiatives:

Published: 17th March 2022

Last edited: 17th March 2022