Two pupils from St Helen and St Katharine in Abingdon have been named the best young cooks in Oxfordshire and are set to compete against Gloucestershire in the Create & Cook competition finals in July.

Abigail Dalby and Alice Hodges, aged 14 years, were crowned the county winners of the Create & Cook competition in Oxfordshire, which is run by fit2cook food education and sponsored by The Midcounties Co-operative Food’s ‘Best of Our Counties’ brand.

Abigail and Alice were up against three other schools and challenged to create a menu from the wealth of locally-produced ingredients the county has to offer. They wowed judges Mark Chandler, owner of Good Food Oxford member The White Hart at Fyfield, fit2cook director Min Raisman and The Midcounties Co-operative’s Matt Fletcher with their Oxfordshire chicken, chorizo and crayfish paella with courgette brownies and raspberry sorbet.

The Oxfordshire finals took place at Brookes Restaurant Cookery School in Oxford on 10th May and were supported by The Midcounties Co-operative, Good Food Oxford and Thames Valley Farmers Markets.

“Abigail and Alice from St Helen and St Katharine in Abingdon said of winning the Oxfordshire final  ‘We can’t quite believe it! We tried really hard to find recipes that showed off local Oxfordshire ingredients.  We’re now looking forward to the next round”

Matt Fletcher, direct sourcing manager at The Midcounties Co-operative Food, said: “The standard of food that the young cooks created in Oxfordshire was really impressive and Alice and Abigail did a fantastic job of using locally-produced ingredients to create a delicious menu even using crayfish from the River Thames!”

“Supporting young people and local suppliers is incredibly important to us and the Create & Cook competition is a fun way for us to get schools into cooking with the amazing ingredients made here in Oxfordshire.”

Min Raisman, director of fit2cook, said: “We were completely blown away by the creativity of all the pupils this year and it was difficult to choose the finalists. Abigail and Alice had worked hard on their local ingredients and their dishes looked and tasted restaurant quality. We’re looking forward to choosing our champions at the finals in July and seeing how the girls refine their dishes further.”

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