Young cook from Stanwick wins national prize

Charlotte Foster joined LEON co-founder John Vincent for an afternoon of naturally fast cooking at LEON HQ in Borough Market, London
Charlotte Foster joined LEON co-founder John Vincent for an afternoon of naturally fast cooking at LEON HQ in Borough Market, London

A young cook from a talented Stanwick family has picked up another accolade.

Charlotte Foster, 10, and her brother Christopher, 12, have won numerous awards for their culinary creations over the past few years.

Charlotte Foster with her brother Christopher

Charlotte Foster with her brother Christopher

And now Charlotte has scooped the £2,500 first prize in the Cook5 competition run by restaurant chain LEON.

Charlotte joined LEON co-founder John Vincent for an afternoon of naturally fast cooking at LEON HQ in Borough Market, London.

She won the competition after uploading five savoury dishes to the Cook5 website.

Her winning recipes included Christmas Tree Twists made from puff pastry, passata and herbs, cheesy bacon parcels and a wide-eyed Minion salad, topped with an oversized cucumber and olive eye.

Charlotte said: “I love cooking. It’s really relaxing and I get to be creative.

“I cook with my mum, or sometimes with my brother Christopher.

“I’d really recommend Cook5 to anyone. It’s great fun.”

Her mum Sue said: ““We have had so much fun with Cook5.

“The kids have always been keen preservers and bakers but hadn’t done much “main meal” cooking with them until Cook5.

“It has encouraged them to make healthy meals that taste and look good.

“They’ve cooked 20 new dishes in the last year.

“I think anything that encourages kids to get cooking both at school and at home is a good thing.

“I would encourage all parents to have a go. I have had no training in food but everything we’ve learned about cooking we have learned together.”

John Vincent and LEON co-founder Henry Dimbleby established Cook5 in 2013 with the aim of getting more children aged five to 15 to learn how to cook at least five savoury dishes before they leave school.

In 2012 they had been asked to conduct a review of school food by then Secretary of State for Education, Michael Gove.

While researching food technology lessons the pair found the majority of lessons were about baking biscuits or muffins, rather than proper dinners.

They also discovered research showing fewer than half of families eat together every day and that 60 per cent of 18 to 25-year-olds leave home without being able to cook five simple things.

As part of John and Henry’s work on the School Food Plan they got cooking back on to the National Curriculum for children up to 14 years old.

To get more children back into the kitchen at home they founded the Cook5 competition, which encourages children to upload and share their dishes.

They can win cash as well badges and prizes for showing off their culinary skills.

LEON co-founder John Vincent said: “Cook5 is all about positivity; we’ve kept our recipes simple so children, and their parents, who don’t usually cook feel they can have a go.

“Cooking is like alchemy; you can spin gold from really basic materials.

“We want to get more and more children back into the kitchen and experience that magic for themselves.”

Taking part is easy.

Children can visit www.leonrestaurants/cook5 and start uploading pictures of the savoury dishes they have produced.

Every participant who reaches the target of cooking five dishes will receive a Cook5 certificate and a Little Leon e-book.

Every month, the person whose recipe receives the most ‘votes’ from friends and family will win £50.

And everyone who cooks five dishes will be entered into a grand annual prize draw for £500.

An additional prize of £2,000 will be awarded to the school that gets the most students cooking five dishes, to invest in teaching cookery.