Young Waveney chef shortlisted in national Spanish cuisine competition

A WAVENEY cookery student has been shortlisted with seven other finalists for a national competition celebrating Spanish cuisine in the UK.

Esme Broadbent, of Ditchingham, works in the Swan House Restaurant in Beccles and has gained a place in the 'Foods from Spain Spanish Young Chef of the Year 2012' competition.

The 20-year-old, who had originally gone to university in 2010 to study advertising and marketing, became passionate about cooking after she started working as a waitress.

She said: 'I started waitressing at the Swan House before my university course but after that didn't work out I returned. I eventually got involved with cooking in the kitchen and decided that was the career I wanted to do.'

Miss Broadbent has recently become a full time trainee sous chef under the watchful eye of head chef Oakley Leighwood and is studying for her Level 2 NVQ in professional cookery at City College Norwich, which she attends once a week.

She is also a student at Open University studying English Literature.

Miss Broadbent, who only found out about the competition two weeks before the deadline, said: 'I thought I would give it a go but I didn't expect to hear anything back. I was delighted when I received a phone call telling me they had some good news for me.

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'I am learning to speak Spanish and would also like to go to Spain so this spurred me on to take part.'

All finalists go through to a final cook-off round in London on January 21, and will be judged by a panel including director of foods from Spain, Mar�a Jos� Sevilla, chef and author Peter Gordon, president of the guild of food writers, Jane Suthering, and chef lecturer Jos� Souto.

The winner will take up a sought-after work placement in the kitchens of the Spanish Michelin-starred resturant, Akelare.

Miss Broadbent said: 'Although the competition will be fierce I am very much looking forward to the event and am getting myself organised to be able to prepare my menu.'

The Spanish Young Chef of the Year competition was first launched to inspire talented young chefs to explore and experiment with a variety of seasonal Spanish fresh produce and create memorable dishes which reflects the food of Spain. The competition is also part of the campaign to promote Spanish produce in the UK throughout the year, including Picota cherries, persimon, strawberries and raspberries.