Chef 'proud' to represent school in regional final
PUBLISHED: 08:30 22 January 2020 | UPDATED: 14:46 22 January 2020
James Kennedy Photography
Sleeves were rolled and dough was kneaded by a resident representing his local school at a cooking competition.
Matteo Zini, 39, is a chef from Saffron Walden who represented St Thomas More Catholic Primary School at the 'School Chef of the Year' competition 2020.
He moved here from Bologna (Italy) five years ago and has previously been a chef at the Saffron Walden County High School. Now, the school chef serves around 200 St Thomas More students to make sure their tummies are ready to fuel thinking on any school day challenges.
Speaking to the Reporter straight after the regional heat, Matteo said: "I was proud to represent my school and share what we do in our little kitchen every day.
"I wanted to test my skills. It was good fun, working under pressure with the judges looking at you. I am happy I have done this experience."
The annual school chef competition was organised by LACA (a school catering organisation) in St Albans on Tuesday, January 21.
"In order to take part, you have to make up a meal, made of one main and one desert, with the budget of £1.30. I went and cooked the meal from scratch in 90 minutes," Matteo explained.
He added he was inspired to come up with the ideas for the dishes by the students he cooks for every day: "I just thought about my children and what they would like me to do to deliver something suitable for them.
"I have already cooked this for them, it was all positive feedback."
Matteo cooked a main course comprising of a beef and potato pastry cobbler - a suet pastry pocket filled with minced beef and potato, and an 'exotic crumble' dessert, mixing mango, pineapple and kiwi with a crunchy crumble on top.
Only two other people were selected to attend the regional final for East Anglia, but Matteo was the only representative for Essex, the other two candidates having come from Hertfordshire and Norfolk.
The winner of the regional heat is due to participate in the national final, the last stage of the event.