Oxford’s Junior Chef of The Year competition is back with a bang! Anyone who’s been cooking in professional kitchens for up to four years is being invited to enter the annual competition, whatever their age.

Entrants will then take part in a cookout competition, making canapes of their own device, and the three finalists will serve their winning canapes at the gala dinner in April when the winner will be announced at awards.

Organised by the City of Oxford Guild of Chefs which aims to promote the catering industry within Oxfordshire and encourage more people into the industry.

Headed up by head chef at St Anne’s College Ben Gibbon, the competition aims to attract and reward both Oxford University college chefs and those working in restaurants, pubs and cafes around Oxfordshire.

“There is a big hole in the industry at the moment thanks to Brexit and Covid, which we need to fill. I hope the tide is turning but we are still struggling to employ people here in Oxfordshire.

Ben Gibbons at St Anne’s

“And while the City of Oxford Guild of Chefs was set up (in 1968) to shine a light on the catering going on within colleges we are now extending that out to the whole industry in Oxfordshire to help try to solve this problem together,” he says.

Ben’s career was launched at Oxford’s Worcester College before he branched out into Oxfordshire’s pubs and restaurants, before then coming back into the fold, and is a keen advocate of the profession, and passionate about nurturing young people within the industry.

“People have really preconceived ideas about what life is like in kitchens but it’s much calmer these days. We just want to put smiles on our customers faces – and happy chefs lead to happy food,” he says.

“So chefs are now opting for a better work life balance and there are lots more girls coming into the industry now which is great to see,” he adds.

Kickstarting the City of Oxford Guild of Chefs with this new competition, Ben is hoping lots of new chefs will come forward to take part, the criteria being anyone with up to four years experience in the industry.

Entrants will be asked to design four different contemporary canapes – meat, fish, , vegetarian and plant based which will then be judged by a panel of eight.

Entry deadline is Friday March 10, with the competition taking place on April 4 at City of Oxford College, and the dinner on April 15 at Keble College. Four winners from each category will make the canapes for the gala dinner.

“There are plenty of people out there eligible to enter, they just need to plan their recipes in advance. To enter go to https://www.foodbuy.co.uk/oxford-junior-chef-competition-2023/