Halesworth student chef praised by Jamie Oliver

PUBLISHED: 11:50 12 August 2014

NSSA director Mark Attenborough, student Ellis Parnell and chef-lecturer Stephen David from Bespoke Events at NSSA Halesworth

NSSA director Mark Attenborough, student Ellis Parnell and chef-lecturer Stephen David from Bespoke Events at NSSA Halesworth


Ellis Parnell from the NSSA Halesworth Chef Academy has won the praise of celebrity chef Jamie Oliver in a national cooking competition.

Ellis was runner-up in the Individual Category of Jamie’s Home Cooking Skills 2014 Competition, part of this year’s Food Revolution Day. Ellis clearly impressed with his closely-fought second place menu entry, coached by Stephen David, NSSA Chef Academy lead lecturer and chef-director of Bespoke Events.

In a YouTube video, Jamie said Ellis “did a really great job” and described his menu as “a beautiful job – nice mix of flavours, very well done”.

He also thanked Stephen David who, with his team of senior chefs and catering specialists, is playing a key role in teaching culinary skills in the NSSA’s Chef Academy. Level 1 students aged 14 – 19 learn in purpose-built commercial kitchens from qualified, passionate professionals, while gaining accredited national vocational qualifications.

For the competition the students were asked to suggest a menu, consisting of two courses and a drink to be served at a dinner party, as street food, at a school fete or in the school canteen.

Ellis’ designed a virtual dinner party menu, using local produce, mixed up with global flavours and a contemporary style – a starter of Thai fishcake with East Coast cod and Cromer crab, served with Asian-style coleslaw, chilli sauce, cucumber and roasted peanuts. His main course was peppered local duck breast with new potatoes, fresh peas and broad beans, wild garlic and a sherry vinegar and parsley leaf dressing. He accompanied it with a spiced zesty non-alcoholic cocktail of Brown River with ginger beer, cola, grenadine, cinnamon and ginger.

Stephen David said the first group of student chefs at the NSSA Chef Academy – local school children from the wider north-east Suffolk area – worked hard on project and produced some outstanding menus.

“I’m proud of them all. Jamie Oliver and his team must have had a tough job deciding on a winner as to me, they are all champions,” he commented. “Ellis obviously deserves a special pat on the back. To receive the phone call to say he came second nationally is such an excellent finish to the term and testament not just to Ellis’ particular efforts but also all the interest and keenness from all the hard-working students.”

Stephen said he hoped to offer jobs to a number of the trainee chefs once they have completed their NSSA course and finished their schooling.

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