On Wednesday 27th November 2019, members of staff from Anchor Foster Care were invited down to the beautiful McLeods restaurant in MidKent College, Gillingham. Two of our young people had entered the 2019-2020 Rotary Young Chef competition, and we were delighted to be able to attend and show support.
Organised by the Rotary International in Great Britain and Ireland, our aspiring chefs joined six other ambitious cooks in an amazing commercial-grade kitchen. Here, delights such as a sausage casserole and a Carribean inspired plantain dish were cooked under strict conditions.
The Wednesday cook-off formed part of the first round of a national competition. Organised in four stages, it culminates on 2nd May with a final at the Rotary GBI Expo in Birmingham following local, district and regional qualifiers. The lucky winner's prize is a trip for two to Tuscany and a day's work placement in a Michelin-starred restaurant, courtesy of the competition's sponsors, Filippo Berio. All in all, not a bad haul.
Despite being treated to free refreshments and the finest of canapes from Level Two & Three students training in the Mcleod's kitchen, there was a more significant reason for our attendance.
As foster carers, it's our job to motivate young people and get them into activities that keep them safe and steer them away from the couch and digital devices.
When we consider the current climate of austerity and significant cuts that been made to youth services, opportunities to engage in something creative are critical. YMCA England and Wales state that:
"An analysis of 84 local authorities across England reveals that while the average spend on youth services per local authority in 2010 was £7.79m, planned average spend for 2019/20 is just £2.45m – a 69% decline."
Competitions like Young Chef then, encourage our growing children to develop and maintain healthy lifestyles, hygiene, organisational and planning skills and the ability to cope with demanding circumstances.
We applaud our young people for the strength they have shown to turn up, show up and deliver today - not only did they enjoy the tasks but they also produced exceptional results!
As Anchor Foster Care Fostering Manager Linda Shephard said,
"I felt very proud of the two young people that took part in this event - it was a joy to see their creation and their ability to work alongside other young people, and I hope that their participation encourages other young people we look after to take part next year.
I would like to also thank the foster carers for supporting their young people to take part in this event and for our Children and Young People's Worker Norma Rice for organising the local event arranging it. "
We give thanks to Rotary International, our young people and our foster carers for daring to embrace opportunity and exemplifying what is possible when you try.