A first-year Professional Cookery student at Edinburgh College came out on top against four of his classmates to bag himself a visit to one of the UK’s top hotel and restaurants, Le Manoir Aux Quat’Saisons in Oxfordshire.
Justin Jones, a City and Guilds Level 1 student, won the James Thomson Student of the Year Award after wowing the judges at a cook-off competition at the five-star Prestonfield House in Edinburgh. James is the owner of Prestonfield and, as a former student at the college, is sponsoring the award.
16-year-old Justin from Galashiels will receive his award at the college’s Prize Giving ceremony being held at Granton Campus next week, on Friday 8 June.
“I can’t believe I won. What an amazing feeling”, said Justin.” I was competing against four really talented student chefs, so to have been chosen as the winner is an incredible feeling.
“Before we started cooking, I would have been happy with positive feedback and being allowed the chance to cook in such an amazing kitchen with the best ingredients.
“I can’t thank James Thomson and my college lecturers enough for this opportunity, and I can’t wait to go to Raymond Blanc’s Le Manoir Aux Quat’Saisons, which will no doubt be an amazing experience.”
Justin and his fellow students were invited to Prestonfield House to cook in their vast kitchen space, but first had to decide on the dish they’d like to make. Justin opted for herb-crusted salmon pave with a spring onion sauce, carrot puree and asparagus, a dish he had never made fully before but one he was confident of executing well.
He said: “I had practised making the sauce as I knew this would be the trickiest element of the entire dish. I felt that if I got that part right then I’d be able to do the rest of the dish well. Thankfully it all came together.”
James Thomson, who studied at Telford College, one of the colleges that became Edinburgh College, judged the competition alongside colleagues from his other restaurants, The Witchery and The Tower, and has funded the winners’ prize.
He said: “Congratulations to Justin on winning this award. His salmon dish was very well balanced, cooked and it was seasoned to perfection – we’d happily use this dish on our menu. Well done to Justin.
“The standard of all the young chefs was fantastic and it was brilliant to see them demonstrate professionalism and commitment throughout their cook-off.
“Having benefited from excellent mentoring during my time at college, I know the importance of supporting young people in our industry, encouraging them to develop, be creative and add their own touch of flair to what they do. I’m delighted to be presenting this award to Justin and wish him and his colleagues well for the future.”
Richard Morris, Food and Hospitality lecturer at Edinburgh College, said: “Huge congratulations to Justin for winning the James Thomson Student of the Year Award. It’s a fantastic achievement. His salmon dish was cooked brilliantly and the judges agreed it was a worthy winner. All of our students did a great job on the day. Hats off to them all.
“Our thanks go to James and his team for supporting this award and providing such an amazing prize, as well as the opportunity for our students to cook in a wonderful environment like Prestonfield House. I know all five who took part absolutely loved the experience and will have learned a lot from it.”