Six Laois students competed for the title of Laois Young Rotary Chef 2018, in an exciting final in St Mary's CBS Portlaoise last week.
Cooking up a storm were Siobhan McEvoy from Mountmellick Community School, and CBS students Richard Mansworth, Jack Bowe, George Smirnoff, Sidney Pindi and Murdo Anton.
They each had to design and cook their own three course meal, within two hours and keeping to a €20 budget.
They were judged on taste, presentation and organisational skills, by Monsieur Aymar Gourdet of "Le Skinny Chef" an award winning French chef in Portlaoise.
First place went to Siobhán, aged 14, who is a second year pupil in Mountmellick CS, and second place went to Richard Mansworth.
Both students went on to compete in the regional final in The Bower, Athlone on Saturday February 3 where they were awarded joint third place.
Siobhan from Kilcavan cooked a spicy carrot and lentil soup, a main of chilli chicken & vegetable stirfry with basmati rice, and lime soufflé for dessert.
She was stunned to win the Laois final.
“I couldn't believe it, I was shaking,” said Siobhan, whose mother Joan and two sisters came to support her.
A keen cook who hopes to become a home economics teacher, Siobhán's initial nerves vanished once she got busy.
Her home ec teacher is Marguerite Foynes.
“Siobhan is a fantastic student, she only had a week's notice but practiced her dishes three times. Her effort and her organisation were outstanding,” she said.
As part of her prize, Siobhán will spend time in Le Skinny Chef, gaining valuable experience in a professional food production company.
Richard created a starter of poached pear, roasted walnuts and blue cheese salad with rocket, spinach, watercress, cherry tomatoes, red onion and a vinegarette dressing.
His main was a mascarpone and parsley stuffed chicken wrapped in prosciutto with garlic and tomato tagliatelle served with homemade pesto.
Dessert was chocolate and hazelnut ice-cream cheesecake with raspberry coulis.
All the judges who are professional chefs, complimented the high standard of food produced and the calibre of the contestants, assuring them that they had a bright future ahead of them in cuisine.