A talented young masterchef from Prestatyn has won an award and his culinary creation will go on the menu at a top restaurant to raise money for a children’s hospice.
Ben Garbutt, 12, was crowned Junior Masterchef by celebrity culinary king Dai Chef at the centre of excellence for Welsh food, Bodnant Welsh Food in the Conwy Valley.
The competition was the climax of a year-long course at the Young Cooks Academy at Bodnant’s cookery school which was attended by 60 cookery-mad youngsters.
Ben was judged to have prepared the most appetising sea bass, which was served with wild mushrooms and golden apple rings.
He beat five other finalists and was invited by Dai, who is executive chef at Bodnant’s acclaimed Hayloft Restaurant, to help him create a unique recipe for a mouth-watering panettone.
The Italian sweet bread, filled with fruit and chocolate will go on sale at the Hayloft, with half of the proceeds going to Tŷ Gobaith children’s hospice in Conwy.
Ben, a pupil at Prestatyn High School, was also named as the best chocolate maker.
He said: “I feel very happy about winning. It’s good to win such a big competition, and to be picked by someone like Dai Chef is amazing. I just tried to get as much flavour into my dish as possible. I wanted to do it to the best of my ability. It’s a dish I really like.
“The panettone is like an Italian chocolate orange bread. I feel really proud that it is going to be on the menu at Bodnant in the Hayloft restaurant.
“I’m going to bring my family here and I feel happy that it is going to help children who are in need of help at Tŷ Gobaith.
“It’s been really good and really fun learning to cook here at Bodnant. You get the chance to be creative and invent new things. Dai Chef is a really good teacher. The food here is really good.”
Dai Chef was blown away by the high standard of the cooking.
He said: “It’s been so hard to choose a winner because they have all done so well. They have cooked to a really high standard. Everyone here today is a winner in their own right.
“We had to pick one and I chose Ben. We liked the way he approached making his food. The taste was wonderful and the presentation was fantastic.
“Tŷ Gobaith is a charity that is really close to my heart and I’ve been working with them for years fundraising.”
Other prize winners included Nellie Salmon, nine, Conwy, who was named Spice Queen; Best Italian Chef Ella Warren-Roberts, nine, Dinas Dinlle; Best Biscuit Maker Ethan White, 11, from Greasby in the Wirral; Pasta King Gruff Clayton, nine, from Denbigh and Best Bread Maker Eleanna Daminaou 15, Manchester.
Bodnant Cookery School consultant Eira Roche explained what was in store for the youngsters in 2015.
She said: “Over the next year at the academy they’re going to be learning all of the fundamental cooking skills. Things like bread making, pasta making, and biscuit making, all sorts of things. They’re going to be leaning to make Japanese dishes like sushi next year.”
She added: “We decided to support Tŷ Gobaith because it’s very important to us at Bodnant that we’re part of the community.”
Pam Messham, a technician at the cookery school, has a personal reason for supporting Tŷ Gobaith.
Her granddaughter Amara Messham-Jones, 18, who is blind, has epilepsy, and is in a wheelchair, has been going to Tŷ Gobaith for respite care since she was a baby.
Pam said: “It’s fantastic for Amara to go there. They have a sensory room, and she gets to play instruments the harp. Tŷ Gobaith has made a huge difference to my family.
Eluned Yaxley, Senior Area Fundraiser for Ty Gobaith added: “We are delighted to be supported by the cookery school at Bodnant Welsh Food Centre.
“Christmas is a special time of year for everyone, but all the more important for families with a life-limited and life threatened child. Like all of our work, respite care by our specialist nursing staff can only happen thanks the support of the Community of North Wales and beyond.
“This is also true for our outreach care and professional counselling for families who use our hospices, and for families in the wider community who have lost a child too.”
For more details on courses at the Cookery School visit www.bodnant-welshfood.co.uk or call 01492 651100.