Changing the conversation about health

Move over Jamie Oliver! Promising cook, nine, scoops Young Chef award with healthy dish

A cookery competition designed to educate schoolchildren about the long-term effects of eating well on health has seen a nine-year-old Hertfordshire schoolboy beat off competition from more than 500 other budding young chefs.

Lucas Brooks, from St Michael’s Woolmer Green school, competed against eight other finalists from Welwyn Hatfield primary schools at Ridgeway Academy earlier this month to be named Welwyn Hatfield Young Chef of 2020.

Hertfordshire schoolboy Lucas Brooks with his vegetable and vermicelli soup, part of his winning three-course meal

The award was developed by The Food Teacher team, based in Hertfordshire, and aims to improve health by educating children about food and nutrition.

Lucas impressed judges with his three-course menu of vegetable and vermicelli soup, Thai salmon with quinoa and honey glazed carrots and apple crumble served with whipped cream.

Commenting after the announcement at the awards ceremony Lucas said: “I had great fun and all I did was enjoy it!”

His class teacher Claire Woods commented: “From start to finish the process of the Young Chef award was a brilliant experience for the children. They loved learning new skills and preparing a variety of different foods.”

Katharine Tate, Director of The Food Teacher, (pictured far right, top row) designed the competition to help teach schoolchildren about the long-term benefits of healthy eating

Lucas wins a day working with the Head Chef Andrew Parkinson at The Grove Hotel, the Welwyn Hatfield Young Chef of the Year 2020 trophy, a selection of recipe books and some goodies from Rude Health.

Judges included Chef Harry Lomas (MBE), Head of Culinary at Wembley Stadium, Gemma Hollis from Welwyn Garden City branch of Waitrose and Katharine Tate, Director of The Food Teacher.

Judge Harry Lomas MBE was impressed with the skills, creativity and dishes prepared by the children he expressed the challenges in choosing a winner.

He said: “All the children were fantastic and many of the dishes I would add to my menus. It was a challenge finding a winner but Lucas stood out for the quality of his food, the balance on his plate and his independence throughout the afternoon.”

Katherine Tate said making cooking and food fun helps engage youngsters: “Teaching children the importance of food for their health is essential and this challenge provides that opportunity within a practical, purposeful and engaging context.”

For more on the awards and recipes to try at home, visit