When I have children, I can only hope that they have the same vitality, charm and drive that I experienced at the home of my friend tonight. Her wonderful daughters keep her on her toes, I am sure, but they really do her proud as well. It’s fascinating to see how two girls brought up in the same home by the same Mum can shine in such different ways. Gabi excels academically but can’t even make a piece of toast whereas Amber may not be as successful in her school exams, but is a hugely talented cook. Clearly, I relate to Amber in the kitchen and am always amazed at her creations.

Amber's pecan pie with a meringue twist

Amber’s pecan pie with a meringue twist

Tonight, she cooked us dinner from scratch: a stunning Coq au Vin followed by a pecan pie topped with meringue. Baking is her real passion. You can see why she was a Junior Masterchef finalist when you see all her cake creations. I have no doubt that she will have her very own successful bakery some day very soon. She has already registered an online name for her place and has a very clear view about how it will look & feel. All this at 15 years old. Here are some of the temptations she may take into that bakery:

A chocolate brownie indulgence

A chocolate brownie indulgence

A 6 tier salted caramel gateaux

A 6 tier salted caramel gateaux

Chocolate cheesecake

Chocolate cheesecake

This week, I also indulged in a dinner made by the teenage daughter of my friend Luci. We went to the college she trains at in Basingstoke and ate our way through her fabulous meal which was part of her assessment. It was so impressive to see a slightly self conscious girl find her voice through cooking. The menu was varied, the food beautifully presented, and each dish was well thought through. What impressed me the most was the elegance with which she balanced the flavours. I am sure young Jess will be an asset in someone’s kitchen very, very soon.

All of this made me think about how young talent gets trained and developed in the industry. Clearly there are good colleges out there doing general cookery courses giving the background and training needed. But for Amber, it is more specific because she is really only interested in baking. London stalwart, Leiths don’t have a pastisserie specific qualification and the Cordon Bleu cookery school won’t accept under 18’s. How does someone with the talent and drive that Amber has achieve her ambition? Thankfully she has found the right course at Westminster college and so all being well her progression into the world of food will be a smooth one. I only wish there was a better network of specialists who could mentor girls like Amber. I think it would be great if some of the successful chefs would be online to support the up and coming talent in some sort of chat room or network. It is clear to me that this young lady has a skill and passion that we will all know about in the future….it’s just a question of how quickly she can get on her chosen path. I for one will do whatever I can to help.

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