Nathan Williams’ Success at Formby Food Festival

On Saturday 19th July, whilst most of you will have been enjoying your first lie in of the holidays, Nathan Williams (now 8ND) was up bright and early, and he was heading to compete at Formby Food Festival in a cooking competition. Formby is on the coast, north of Liverpool and close to the seaside resort of Southport. Along with his supporters; some very excited family members, Mrs Morgan and myself, we headed straight through the field, past the food stalls, for the tent which was set up for the competition. The tent was kitted out with a stage and whilst like our own kitchens at school or home, the difference was that around 50 people were in the audience watching!

The primary school competitors were up on stage first, having to make a Shepherds Pie. For children aged 11 and under, this was a particularly complex task. Any parents who are reading this article, should be encouraged and inspired to get your youngsters involved in food and cooking; these preparation and cooking skills need to be developed from a young age at home.

Nathan was competing with a Year 10 girl from a school in Wigan. When we arrived in Formby, we were informed that the girl couldn’t make it. So Nathan had technically won by default! Obviously Nathan’s opportunity to cook on stage was now going to change, as there was no other competitor.

Academy of Culinary Arts Regional chef James Holden asked Nathan to go ahead and cook on stage to produce the Chicken Forestiere dish he had been practising, with James up on stage to support him. Nathan certainly wasn’t showing his nerves as he got everything ready and prepared for his time on stage.

It was an incredibly proud moment for me. I’d seen Nathan in his food lessons in Year 7, working in a classroom with only an hour to complete a task. He’d entered this competition with many other students from STB, and he had shown confidence in making his school entry dish. With so many components to his chicken and chorizo pasta, the chef had seen something in Nathan’s approach to cooking. He’d had an uphill struggle after his local heat win, and during his practises at school and home, something wasn’t quite right – either timing or not quite managing to pull all aspects together in the time given.

Here was Nathan, up on a stage at the age of 12, cooking in front of around 30 strangers, a professional chef, in a giant tent, 75 miles from home!! What a fantastic opportunity and a great effort. Cheered on by us all, and with some additional audience members joining us, Nathan cooked and presented his meal within 45 minutes. A pan fried chicken breast with bacon, mushrooms and a wine jus, roasted potato cubes and a courgette and asparagus tower and carrots. Superb.

Nathan has won the opportunity to experience working in a kitchen, in a restaurant of his choice. As Nathan likes spicy food and highlighted his love for Indian food, James is arranging a work experience day with an Indian restaurant.

I would like to thank Peter Walters for his help and advice, and for mentoring Nathan in the build up to Formby Food Festival. Well done to Nathan.

– Miss Daragheh
Head of Food & Catering