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Student has recipe for success 6 May 2008

A STUDENT from the Isle of Man hopes success will come on a plate at a prestigious cookery competition.

Nicola Logan, who is in Year 9 at Castle Rushen High School, is in the final of the CookIt! competition, staged by the Guild of Food Writers.

Budding young cooks aged 10 to 14 were asked to design a two-course family meal for a special occasion, using mainly fresh and healthy ingredients. The main course and pudding must serve between 2 and 4 people and cost a maximum of £20 to make and no longer than 1 hour 30 minutes to prepare and cook. Nicola Logan

Nicola is one of six finalists who will travel to London on Thursday 22 May to prepare their recipes at the BBC Good Food test kitchens in front of a panel of judges, who include leading food writers and chefs.

Nicola, 13, of Port Erin, will be creating a mouth-watering main course of sea bream with Thai green tapenade and coconut basmati rice, followed by a delicious dessert of cinnamon and raisin French toast with caramelised clove apples and orange crème fraiche.

She is a regular reader of the BBC Good Food Magazine and she spotted an article about the CookIt! competition and decided to enter. Nicola has a passion for food that was inspired by helping her mum Linda in the kitchen.

She said: ‘I then got my first children’s cookbook and discovered I really liked it. I moved on to adult cookbooks, then started writing my own recipes and picking up tips on food.’

Over Easter she worked at the fish market at Port St Mary with chef Steve Quirk, who has offered her the chance to practice for the final in his professional-standard kitchen.

On a recent trip to London, Nicola and her mum signed up for a cookery course at Billingsgate Fish Market, where they learned about selecting, gutting and serving fish. Mrs Logan treated her daughter to a surprise trip to Benares – one of only two Michelin-starred Indian restaurants in London and run by famous chef Atul Kochhar.

Nicola has already tasted success as she was a finalist in the Blue Peter Can You Cook It? Competition last year, which she described as ‘more chop and chat, testing our skills as TV presenters’.

She is also a talented actress who has starred in school and Douglas Choral Union productions and has won a part in the Manx Operatic Society’s Christmas pantomime.

However, she has no doubt that she wants to make cooking her career and plans to take food technology at GCSE, stay on at school to take A-levels and then go to catering college, before working in restaurants to gain experience. ‘Eventually I aim to set up my own fish restaurant,’ she said.

Education Minister Anne Craine MHK wished Nicola well in the final, saying: ‘She speaks incredibly passionately and knowledgably about food for someone so young and we will all be keeping our fingers crossed for her on 22 May as she flies the flag for the Isle of Man.’

Jane Suthering, President of the Guild of Food Writers, said: ‘The fact that Nicola has got this far is fantastic.’

Nicola will compete against children from North Yorkshire, Dorset, Manchester, Derbyshire and West Sussex. The winner of CookIt! will enjoy an ‘Italian Experience’ in the capital, spending a morning learning about Italian cookery in the kitchens of Giorgio Locatelli, one of the UK’s leading Italian chefs, before assisting in preparing the winning recipes to be served at his acclaimed Locanda Locatelli restaurant.

The finals will be featured in the October edition of the BBC Good Food Magazine.

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