Saffron Walden student chef makes it to live cook-off heats of top competition

PUBLISHED: 16:20 25 January 2014

From left, Yuan Lee, Jenny Polhil and Maria Kovacheva.

From left, Yuan Lee, Jenny Polhil and Maria Kovacheva.

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A student chef will be putting her culinary skills to the test after winning through to the regional heats of a top competition.

Maria Kovacheva, 24, of Horn Brook, Saffron Walden, is one of a team of three Cambridge Regional College (CRC) students shortlisted for the live cook-off heats of the Brakes Student Chef Team Challenge.

She impressed the judges with her carefully chosen dishes for a three-course menu – all proven hits with visitors to the college’s Park restaurant.

Maria and her fellow team members, Jenny Polhil, 19, and Yuan Lee, 18, will each cook one course at the Midlands and East Anglia heat at Stratford on Avon on March 7, one of seven regional heats.

The country’s premier competition for student chefs attracted a record 87 team entries from colleges throughout the UK, with 52 shortlisted for the cook-offs.

Teams will have just under two hours to prepare, cook and serve their three-course menu for four people, judged by a panel of top chefs. The winning team will go through to the finals at Hotelympia 2014 at Excel in London on April 28.

The CRC team will be cooking celeriac apple soup with hog fritters, pan-fried venison with saladaise potatoes and dark chocolate cherry fondant with white chocolate ice cream.

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