Student chefs do battle in Liverpool to find Wokstar final winner

Six catering students from across England and Wales will go head-to-head at Lu Ban Liverpool on Friday to win the first Wokstar title and a £3,000 cash prize. 

The competition, which was launched last month, is a new skills competition for colleges and food education centres to promote skills in Chinese culinary arts and to give student chefs an interest in Chinese cuisine. 

The six finalists, who won their college heat, now face a ‘grilling’ by a panel of judges at Lu Ban Liverpool where they will be asked a series of questions on Chinese cuisine and culture. 

The six finalists are: 

·       Dylan Quartly, aged 18, Coleg Cambria (Wrexham) 

·       Andrew Trevillion, aged 19, Hopwood Hall College (Rochdale) 

·       Cammy Choi, aged 26, Kendal College 

·       Jean Claudine Villaneuva, aged 29, Middlesbrough College 

·       Lauren Firth, aged 19, Trafford College (Manchester) 

·       Amelia Smith, aged 17, Tameside College (Manchester) 

More than 35 students have taken part in the competition where they were assessed on their skills, taste and presentation of a Chinese cold dish, main dish and dessert, which was overseen by chair of judges Mike Jennings of the Hospitality Hut. 

Mike and Lu Ban executive head chef Dave Critchley will assess the performances of each finalist in the heats along with the verdicts from the panel of judges, who have been specially selected for their knowledge, to decide the overall winner. 

 The panel of judges quizzing the finalists are: 

·       Paul Kallee-Grover MBE, chair of the Liverpool China Partnership 

·       Rina Sowler, associate member of Liverpool China Partnership 

·       Leigh Harmes, Berkmann Wine Cellars 

·       Jason Benn, global leader in skills development at City & Guilds 

·       Wendy Johnston, senior lecturer in food studies at Liverpool John Moores University 

The Wokstar competition is backed by Lu Ban Foundation, the Chinese Department for Education and Tianjin School of Cuisine, with the final coinciding with the Tianjin Vocational Skills Week. 

Mike Mounfield, Lu Ban foundation director and Wokstar competition consultant, said: “The Lu Ban Foundation is very keen to expand awareness of Chinese cuisine and the skills of Chinese culinary arts. 

“We undertake several projects from sessions with school children to CPD courses with experienced chefs. 

“The Wokstar competition has expanded our activities and enabled us to reach young budding chefs looking at a career in hospitality and catering and to introduce them to Chinese cuisine. 

“It has been well received by the colleges and students taking part, while the standards have been excellent. 

“We look forward to welcoming the finalists, as well as all of the other competitors and tutors to Liverpool and Lu Ban for the final. 

“Our plans for the competition are to expand it next year, doubling the number of colleges and students taking part.” 

The winning Wokstar will be announced on the day and will receive their £3,000 prize, a trophy, a bottle of Lu Ban Drappier champagne and a copy of Cherry Blossom, a new book from Lu Ban executive head chef Dave Critchley. The tutor of the winning Wokstar will receive £1,000 of CPD training at Lu Ban restaurant. 

Each heat finalist will also receive a trophy, Lu Ban Drappier champagne (if aged 18 or older) and a copy of Cherry Blossom. 

For more information on the competition and for details of all the heat winners, follow the Wokstar competition via 

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