Cookery competition shows off Algarve student chefs

Student chefs and waiters were the stars at a Rotary Gala Dinner at the Conrad Hotel in Quinta do Lago last week.

The students from Escola Dra Laura Ayres in Quarteira and Escola EB 2/3 Dr António de Sousa Agostinho in Almancil were this year’s finalists of the Annual Rotary Cookery Competition.

The 2014/15 competition organised as before by Alan Winn of the Rotary Club of Silves and Peter Hinze of the Almancil International Rotary Club began in November last year with four Algarve schools entering between them a total of 14 teams.

Over the course of the next six months, 12 volunteer judges ate a total of 28 meals. The final was held at the Conrad in April with the finalists preparing their meals in the hotel’s own kitchen.

“It was very close this year,” said Alan Winn, “but we had to make a decision and declared the team chosen from the Quarteira school the winners, with the Almancil team coming a close second.”

The winning team received their trophy at the gala dinner with personalised aprons presented to both teams.

All the participants who entered the competition are students aged 16-18 who attend a two-year catering course at their respective schools with some being given training as waiting staff and the ones who show an interest in cooking given training as chefs.

Both the Almancil and Quarteira schools have their own restaurants which are open to the public for lunch on one or two days a week in term time, offering a three-course lunch cooked and served by the students at a modest price.

Not all the students go on to follow a career in the restaurant or hotel industry but for those who decide they would like to improve their skills and take up catering or waiting as a profession, the schools arrange training at local hotels and restaurants during the school holidays.

As the students have started their training jobs for this year, the school restaurants are now closed until the beginning of the autumn term.

“We have been very fortunate to have the Conrad Hotel on board,” said Peter Hinze.

“The General Manager Joachim Hartl and the Executive Chef Andrew McGie have been tremendously supportive. Not only have the students who reached the final been able to experience a professional kitchen, they have enjoyed being our very special guests at a superb dinner prepared by the Conrad chefs.”

The Rotary cookery competition will start again in November this year. Applications from all schools in the Algarve are welcome.

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Caption: Marta Castanheiro holds the trophy for the winning school with Peter Hinze and Alan Winn.