The Big BakeOff!

The Springboard Futurechef Virtual BakeOff

Over the course of the past year, Springboard has been driven to adapt our working methods in a way that enables us to create opportunities for young people and encourage them to explore the hospitality industry whilst learning new skills in the kitchen. Despite the pandemic preventing us from hosting our annual Springboard FutureChef competition, we have worked hard to continue to showcase the capabilities of young aspiring chefs.

The competition saw 121 young participants across the UK work remotely to produce a baked fruit tart with homemade shortcrust pastry. Over 40 chefs volunteered as judges to whittle the competition down to 3 to 4 finalists from each region of the UK. These judges came from all walks of life, with some working during the pandemic, whilst others were furloughed or had simply taken on new opportunities due to the pandemic. When asked why these young people wanted to participate in the competition, we received a range of responses. Our Northern Ireland regional winner, Oisin Gates, said the baking aspect of the competition drew him to the Springboard FutureChef BakeOff; viewing himself as more of a cook, he “wanted to challenge” himself by stepping out of his comfort zone. The pear frangipane tart made him a winner!

The Bake-down

The lockdown restrictions meant that the structure of the competition had to be altered slightly, the judges were unable to taste the tarts, thus their decision was based on the photographs and paperwork submitted by the competitors. Such paperwork required the competitors to provide a recipe and timed schedule, details of their cooking methods, a description of their tart, as well as a detailed explanation of why each ingredient had been chosen. The next stage in the competition was down to the four final volunteering judges to choose the top dishes in each region and select the winners accordingly. David Mulcahy, Steve Munkley, Mark Reynolds and Brian Turner comprised the national panel of judges, whose role it was to examine the photographs and paperwork submitted and elect a winner for each region. 

From there, 9 talented school pupils from across the UK were announced as the Springboard FutureChef BakeOff Regional Champions and accredited in a celebratory call via Teams with the FutureChef Chairman and competition judge, Brian Turner. 

“It was gratifying to see such wonderful entries … full of passion and enthusiasm and great quality.”

– Brian Turner

Ground-baking Prizes

The 9 winners were sent amazing prizes, including a box containing a Springboard FutureChef BakeOff apron and skull cap, along with a knife set courtesy of Russums. Meanwhile, our runners up were rewarded with Ranveet Gill’s book, “The Pastry Chef’s Guide”, a fantastic prize to help develop their skills further. Both winners and runners up received a certificate to merit their achievements. Additionally, some of the winners were given the opportunity to win a box of produce from the commercial produce wholesaler, Wellocks and participate in a virtual cook-along session with chef Leigh Myers of Wellocks. Leigh assigned each winner with a box of ingredients to cook the following dish: Braised Breast of Goosnargh Chicken, Broth of Wild Mushrooms, Spillmans Asparagus, Baby Leek and Jersey Royal Potatoes.

Virtual Cook-along

The virtual cook-along – which some pupils participated in from their home and/or their schools – saw chef Leigh Myers take the young people through a step-by-step of the dish. Myers, accompanied by 4 judges, agreed that it was “incredible that everyone had the same ingredients but presented it in a completely unique way.” David Mulcahy noted that these young people were “potential chefs of the future”, adding that the food they had produced was a “fantastic display” of their culinary skills. When showing the group their finished product, Brian Turner joked with one of the participants and asked, “when can you start working for me?”.
The Springboard FutureChef BakeOff competition was undoubtedly a fantastic display of the skill and talent of aspiring young chefs across the UK. The icing on the cake was when some of the winners were presented with the opportunity to work alongside professional chefs at the Wellocks cook-along. In the words of David Mulcahy, “roll on next year” for our FutureChef competition. We hope to see our Springboard FutureChef BakeOff participants continue to demonstrate the wealth of skills and talent they showcase throughout the competition.

Published: 5th July 2021

Last edited: 5th July 2021