An aspiring chef from Westminster Kingsway College is jetting off to India to put his culinary skills to the ultimate test in a global competition.
Jackson Carter, 18, will be representing England and competing against chefs from more than 50 countries in the ninth International Young Chef Olympiad from 29 January to 4 February.
He said: “It’s a great feeling to have performed well enough for my chef lecturer to pick me and I will be flying out to take part in an international competition. Just to be going there is incredible.
“I’ve always tried very hard to improve my skills, and over the past month I have been pushing myself and practising every day to do even better.”
The first round of the competition run by the International Institute of Hotel Management will see the participating chefs split into groups competing in Delhi, Bangalore, Pune, Hyderabad or Goa, before the 10 leading chefs compete in the grand final in Kolkata.
Jackson, from Brent, who is studying for a Professional Chef Level 3 Diploma, started out on a Level 1 diploma at WestKing in September 2020 before progressing to Level 2 and Level 3.
He said: “Since I was in Year Six at school I’ve been cooking with my mum and always really enjoyed it. I’ve grown up around food and it’s always something I’ve loved and had a passion for.”
Jackson began to consider a career as a chef while studying food technology at secondary school, which later led to him choosing to train at WestKing after being impressed the college’s facilities.
He said: “There are not many other colleges that can match WestKing, especially in London. There are other colleges that have a small section dedicated to training chefs, but every corner you turn here you’re in a new kitchen or production room.”
WestKing students have a good history in the competition. Beth Collings won Bronze in 2020 and last year Joe Slater came fourth and won Best Vegetarian Dish.
Jackson has been mentored by WestKing Chef Lecturer Chris Basten, a former chair of the Craft Guild of Chefs, who also prepared Beth and Joe for the competition.
He was chosen for the contest after a cook-off against a selected group of Level 3 students at the college, which was judged by Chris, Chef Lecturer Norman Fu and Head of School Paul Jervis.
“Chris has been really great, showing me tips and tricks, and showing me small things I might not have noticed but need to know to really excel,” said Jackson.
“The college has done well in the competition so far. Hopefully, I can keep the trend going.”