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Last Updated: Wednesday March 15 2006 17:38 GMT

I cook up a storm as Future Chef!

Michael wins the grand final!
Michael wins the grand final!

The need to eat healthily has been in the news a lot recently, but knowing what's good to eat isn't enough if you don't know how to cook it!

Michael has won a national award for young chefs and tells us why he loves food!

"I've always been interested in cooking. I used to watch my mum in the kitchen and try and help out.

When I was seven-years-old I went to visit the Ideal Home Show and volunteered to help a chef with a food demonstration on stage.

I was given a proper chef's hat and everything, which I've still got!

Cooking creatively

I realised for the first time that food could be about inventing recipes and being creative.

The very next day I asked my mum to get the same ingredients so that I could try making it for myself.

The chef asked me to visit him in his restaurant and I was completely in awe of the kitchen. I knew then that I wanted to be a chef.

Since then I have loved experimenting with food. I use recipes as a starting point and add the rest so I put my own edge on it.

Cooking up a competition

I entered the Future Chef competition, in which there were three rounds.

For the first round we had to come up with a hot main course and a hot or cold dessert for two people - all costing under five pounds!

It was quite a challenge but I learnt to always look around for the best deals in the supermarkets.

It also taught me that it's best to cook what is in season, as that makes it a bit cheaper and much better quality.

Being inventive
Michael busy in the kitchen
Michael busy in the kitchen

I looked at past recipes and talked to chefs to get ideas and advice, but the dish I created was my own.

I was more nervous for the second round as it was for a place in the finals! When I got through I couldn't stop smiling!

Practice makes perfect!

To prepare for the Grand Final we were each given a top chef as a mentor.

My mentor was Wayne Tapsfield and he's been brilliant!

I came to London a couple of times a week for lessons with him. He helped to give me the confidence in myself that you need as a chef.

He has even invited me to work with him at the restaurant one day in April which I'm so excited about!

The night before the final I was shaking like a leaf! Not so much because I was nervous but because I just wanted to be there so I could get started!

I'd been practising my dish every night for the last four weeks. My poor family must have been fed up of eating it!

My mum has been an amazing help, I couldn't have done it without her.

Grand Final

All the contestants started cooking at the same time and I forgot my nerves.

I always go into my own world when I'm in the kitchen, although I tried to look professional every time the judges came close!

When they announced that I had won I couldn't take it all in!

Part of my prize will even be to get a day's work in a restaurant kitchen of my choice - I can't wait!

I definitely want to be a chef when I'm older and would one day love to run a Michelin Star restaurant.

Cooking is just really fun and you can be so creative."

Michael, 14, Kent


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