Devon chef realises dream with top title

South West Junior Chef of the Year

South West Junior Chef of the Year - Credit: Archant

Ethan, 16, a former student at The King’s School, Ottery St Mary, is named South West champion

South West Junior Chef of the Year

South West Junior Chef of the Year - Credit: Archant

A budding culinary star is fast realising a lifetime ambition after wowing industry greats to clinch the South West Junior Chef of the Year title.

Ethan Macdonald (pictured), known as Ethan Clarke, 16, a former student at The King’s School in Ottery St Mary, knew the profession he wanted to follow from the age of three and secured his first job in a restaurant kitchen aged 11.

The teen is now well on the way to professional success after impressing judges - including celebrity and Michelin-starred chef Michael Caines - to win the prestigious award on Saturday – beating off stiff competition from five other finalists.

Ethan, who lives in Aylesbeare, said: “I started working at the age of 11 when I got my first job in a professional kitchen. It was at The HH Restaurant in Broadclyst – I worked there for four years.

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“Then I had a work experience placement at the Salutation Inn in Topsham. On the Friday, I got offered a job there.

“I entered the competition and worked with Tom, the head chef at the Salutation, on the menu.

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“I was hoping I would win, but the competition is about how well the day goes. I got a lot of comments asking if I was nervous but I didn’t feel nervous. Everyone said how focused I was.”

Ethan’s dish of corn-fed chicken breast, potato galette, asparagus and chicken jus won over judges at Ashburton Cookery School on the day.

On his love of cooking, Ethan, who is now studying at Exeter College, said that while his friends were watching children’s programmes on television, he would be glued to cookery shows and was inspired to follow his dreams from there.

His mum, Tammie Clarke, said: “He has wanted to be a chef since he was three years old. He did cooking at home with us and his granddad. We are very proud - he has done really well for himself and he was not necessarily expected to do very well while he was at primary school.

“His food technology teacher at King’s, Mrs Capon, was really supportive – she even came to the final on Saturday to see how he was getting on. His first boss, Craig Sampson at The HH, was also a big support to him.”

Organisers of the South West Chef of the Year Award said judges were ‘blown away’ by the standard demonstrated in the competition, attended by finalists from across the region.

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