Mini master chefs from Gresham’s in Holt could be serving the Queen to celebrate Diamond Jubilee
A group of mini-master chefs have been busy perfecting an all-Norfolk menu fit for the Queen in celebration of her 60 years on the throne – and they could now even be in with a chance of personally serving their gastronomic creations to her.
The eight pupils of Gresham's prep school, in Holt, have made it through to the final of a national cookery competition which invited children across the country to come up with a Diamond Jubilee menu.
More than 200 schools from Cornwall to the Shetland Isles entered the Cook for the Queen contest, the idea of the Duchess of Cornwall, and the top 16 menus – including Gresham's Norfolk on a Plate contribution – have now been sent to Buckingham Palace for royal chef Mark Flanagan to judge.
He will pick the top four menus and students from those schools will be invited to London next month to see their canap�s prepared by royal chefs before helping to personally serve them at a special reception, attended by the Queen and the Duchess of Cornwall.
Fiona Wollocombe, chairman of Gresham's prep parents' association, helped co-ordinate the school's master cooking team after inviting all eligible students to put forward their contributions for a royal feast.
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And she and her fellow association members were so inundated with ideas they decided to enlist some expert tastebuds to whittle down the entries, and drafted in the school's head chef Garry Hobart and Gresham's local food hero, Michelin-starred chef Galton Blackiston, to judge them.
The pair selected eight winners who were then in for a tasty treat when they were invited to Mr Blackiston's kitchen at Morston Hall near Blakeney to perfect their recipes.
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Mrs Wollocombe said: 'We spent an incredible day at Morston Hall and they loved it. They were absolutely up to their arms in crab, samphire and asparagus and all the other lovely local produce. They literally got stuck in and Galton let them chop things up and throw things in the fryer.
'What was really funny was that they really gave Galton a run for their money. He'd say 'what about this?' and they'd say 'no I don't want that'. They absolutely had their foot in the door.'
The children also helped come up with the names of their dishes, which all carried a royal flavour, and were very conscious of modern eating habits so ensured vegetarian and dairy free options were included.
Among the team, who wore specially printed aprons for their day of cordon bleu cooking, was Amy Matthews who contributed a county-favourite to the menu to reflect her famous foody family.
The 11-year-old said: 'I chose turkey because my grandad was Bernard Matthews. It was really fun and Galton showed us different ways of cooking.'
Theo Malcolm, 10, meanwhile used Norfolk peer potatoes in his recipe to tie in with the royal theme.
The four winning schools are expected to be announced next week and Mrs Wollocombe said it had been 'incredibly exciting' for the youngsters to get so far in the competition.
She added: 'We were absolutely over the moon to get the email to say they're down to the last 16. The children were all asking about it and we had to Google the [Palace's] head chef to see what he did.
'But looking at all the other competitors I must say it's going to be pretty tough. It's just all eyes on what comes out next week.'