Youngsters from eight Doncaster primary schools put on their chef’s hats and selected their spices to take part in the inaugural Aagrah Junior Chef competition.
Following cooking demonstrations from Aagrah’s Asif Ali, and school cook offs, two pupils, aged between seven and 11, from each of the particpating schools were selected to battle it out to be crowned winner of the Junior Chef competition.
Pupils from Waverley Primary, Kirk Sandall Infants, Highwoods Primary, Town Field Primary, Barnburgh Primary, Kingfisher Primary, Woodfield Primary and Woodlands Primary all stepped up to the plate to make and present a curry dish from scratch, using their own recipes in just one hour.
The competition final was held at the Aagrah restaurant in Great North Road in Woodlands, and the budding chefs presented their dishes with a brief explanation of how they came up with the recipe to the judging panel, comprised of Children and Young Persons Officer for Doncaster North, PC Lee Dodds, Editor-in-Chief of South Yorkshire Newspapers, Chris Burton, Mayor of Doncaster, Ros Jones, Assistant Director for Education at Doncaster Council, Jo Moxon and Executive Chef and Restaurant Proprietor at Aagrah, Liaquat Ali.
Mr Ali said of the competition: “Our future lies in the hands of our children, so it’s great to be involved and working together with all these schools, teaching and inspiring students to want to learn something new whilst having fun.”
He added: “We have been very impressed with what these young chefs have produced at the final cook off. We are very proud to be hosting the Aagrah Doncaster Junior Chef and to help contribute to such a worthy cause as the Bluebell Wood Children’s Hospice.”
Dishes presented in the final included a Barn Sindhi, which was a chicken curry with mushrooms, coconut milk and plum and the ‘Magnificent 7-a-Day’ vegetable curry with carrots, courgettes, aubergines, red peppers, spinach among its ingredients. The participating youngsters were praised for their creativity, with one group presenting their dish in a bowl made from a chipatti, while another researched Aagrah’s menu and came up with a recipe for lamb meatballs, a dish not yet offered by the restaurant.
Head teacher at Woodfields Primary, Helen Bellinger said pupils at the school had really enjoyed taking part in the competition.
She added: “Working with the Aagrah Doncaster has been a fabulous opportunity for our children to learn about healthy Indian cooking.”
“The children are excited and have been inspired to create and make their own dishes using fresh ingredients.”
The dishes were judged in 10 categories for team work, the name of the dish, attention to hygiene, taste as well as how health conscious the recipe was.
The winner is due to be crowned at a glitzy awards ceremony at the Keepmoat Stadium on June 17 at 7pm.
Tickets are still available, and cost £25.
Call the restaurant on 01302 728888 to book.
All proceeds from the competition will be donated to children’s charity, Bluebell Wood Children’s Hospice. Names of pupils and dishes:
- Waverley Primary: Dilan Cokysar and Regan Doods, both 11, cooked a Balby Balti (the Waverley way) a chicken dish made with coconut milk
- Kirk Sandall infants: Amelia Pierrepont-Smith and Reece Craig, both seven, dished up a Kiss Kiss Chicken - a chicken dish cooked with mangoes
- Mexborough Highwoods Primary: Cory Plater and George Hooper, both 11, served judges a Magnificent 7 a day vegetable curry dish with carrots, courgettes, aubergine, red pepper, sweet potatoes, spinach and green beans
- Town Field Primary: Lily Butler, 10, and Eseniya Tumarevica, nine, went with a Fresh Chicken Kashmiri - a traditional type of curry
- Barnburgh Primary: Alfie Sykes and George Kreice, both nine, produced a Barn Sindhi - a chicken dish with mushrooms, cream and plum sauce
- Kingfisher Primary: Samar Ahmed and Edward Phillips, both nine, made a Superior Sarmasala - a traditional chicken curry
- Woodfield Primary: Abigael Steward and Jakub Zietek, both 10, served the judges a low fat chicken and chick pea curry - a one pot dish made with yoghurt
- Woodlands Primary: Braiden Dale, nine, and Kia Dagnall, 11, cooked a Woodland Kofta Curry - minced lamb meatballs in a curry sauce