ASPIRING young chefs from across Craven, Otley and Ilkley took part in the local heat of the Rotary in Great Britain and Ireland Young Chef of the Year competition.

Organised by Skipton Rotary Club, on behalf of and with the support of the clubs making up the Dales district, Settle, Skipton Craven, Ilkley and Otley, the contest took place once again at the catering and food department of Craven College.

A total of seven students, from Ermysted's Grammar School, Skipton; Prince Henry's Grammar School, Otley, and Ilkley Grammar School, were given 90 minutes to prepare a two course, healthy meal for two with a budget of £15.

Poppy Lofthouse, from Ilkley Grammar School won the heat, impressing the judges with her pan fried chicken, and lemon butter sauce, and will now go forward to the district final in Harrogate next year.

Pam Ryan, from Skipton Rotary Club's youth activities team, said: "This competition aims to encourage students not only to cook a healthy meal and develop their presentation skills, but also to consider food hygiene, develop organisational and planning skills, and, most importantly, be able to cope in a demanding and unaccustomed environment – a professional kitchen."

She said organisers were very grateful to judges, Chris Gregson, of the Fountaine Inn, Linton; Michael Pighills, of the King’s Head Kettlewell, and Andy Collop, of Macleods, at the Coniston Hotel for giving their time and expertise so generously.

"They had the difficult task of applying the judging criteria and deciding on a winner, and after a hot and busy hour and a half, trying some of the tastiest and beautifully presented plates of food, the judges finally agreed that Poppy Lofthouse, from Ilkley Grammar School was the winner," said Pam.

"Her menu of Pan fried Salmon with lemon butter sauce, served with steamed seasonal vegetables, followed by Eton Mess was praised by the judges.

"Lemon butter sauce is difficult to make without the sauce splitting and her sauce was perfect; they also found her pudding to be faultless."

Poppy will now go through to the district final to be held on February 4 at Betty's cooking school in Harrogate where she will be up against the seven students who have heats in other parts of the rotary district.

For the final, she will have to prepare three courses, in two hours with a budget of £20.

The youth committee thanked all those who took part, and fellow rotarians.

"We are indebted to the staff at Craven College, especially William Jacques, who supervised and supported the students in their work in the kitchen," said Pam.

"The judges complimented all the contestants, commenting ‘that the standard of food produced by the students continue to amaze and improve year on year. Only a few marks separated the candidates – it was an extremely close competition’. They congratulated all the students for their enthusiasm, hard work and skill and hoped to see them again next year."

Keelham Farm Shop sponsored each competitor with £15 vouchers to cover cost of ingredients.