Northern Ireland young chef through to UK-wide cooking competition

A young aspiring chef has won a place in the final of the 'Future Chef' competition in London.

Kristen Nugent won her spot after impressing the judges with her main course and dessert during the competition hosted at the Belfast Metropolitan College's Titanic Quarter campus.

A total of eight young teenagers went head to head and had a time frame of 90 minutes to make a main and a dessert.

It was then judged by industry professionals and last year's winner of the competition.

The Dungannon teen was selected as the winner from 1,650 students who registered to take part this year, which is more than double the number from last year.

Kristen Nugent blew judges away with her consideration of flavours, local produce and conscientious cooking.

Kristen, who attends St. Ciaran's College in Ballygawley was the runner up in the competition last year, and was mentored by local Dungannon chef, James Devine throughout her time in the competition.

FutureChef is an annual initiative from Springboard, a charity that is committed to nurturing young talent and promoting hospitality as a great place to work.

Caitriona Lennox, Head of Springboard NI said: "Northern Ireland has a natural passion for local produce, farming, excellent restaurants and creative chefs, and many of them have been participants in FutureChef competitions over the past 24 years. "We are delighted for Kristen and her winning dish, and are grateful to our mentors, judges and competition sponsor Henderson Foodservice for lending their time, knowledge and skills to our participants over the past few months.

"This has been a fantastic year for the competition, and if the talent and ambition we have seen this year is any indicator, the future of hospitality in Northern Ireland is in great hands!"

Kristen will now head to London in March to represent Northern Ireland in the UK-wide FutureChef final.

Want a quick and expert briefing on the biggest news stories? Listen to our latest podcasts to find out What You Need To Know.