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Up-and-coming young trio have recipe for success in the kitchen

Chef Paula McIntyre had a daunting task to pick the winners of our cookery competition, considering the amazing standard of entries.

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Tasty treats: Paula McIntyre was impressed with the standard of entries into the competition

Tasty treats: Paula McIntyre was impressed with the standard of entries into the competition

Kenan Kaya

Kenan Kaya

Terri Donaghy

Terri Donaghy

Tasty treats: Paula McIntyre was impressed with the standard of entries into the competition

These are the up-and-coming young chefs who donned their aprons to cook their way to victory in our cooking competition with the Dairy Council for Northern Ireland and chef Paula McIntyre.

Our three winners got busy to recreate one of Paula's recipes published in the Belfast Telegraph and have each won a £100 One4all voucher thanks to their culinary skills.

Kenan Kaya (12) from Newtownards, winner of the 12-15-year-old age group, says he was jumping up and down all day after hearing about his win: "It still doesn't feel real!"

The youngster wants to become a chef when he leaves school and has been cooking from an early age. He has joined an after-school cooking club but hasn't been able to get to it very much because of lockdown.

Kenan Kaya

"The earliest cooking memory I have is helping my mum to cook chicken stir fry - I always wanted to help," the Regent House pupil says.

"My family in Turkey owns a restaurant and my uncle is the head chef, so I'm always asking him how to make things.

"My specialties would either be steak or spaghetti bolognese, or pavlovas and meringues. I've made them so much now during lockdown - I've made brownies, cakes, lots of meringues and pavlova for everybody and the other week I started making pancakes."

The family was due to visit Turkey this summer but couldn't go because of coronavirus, so instead they decided to stage a Kaya family Come Dine with Me competition. Kaya, his mum Kellye, dad Cetin and brother Zeki (15) took turns making a three-course meal with a £30 budget and Kenan was the winner.

"During lockdown I recorded lots of cooking channels on TV. I really like Jamie Oliver's show Keep Calm and Cook On," he says.

Meanwhile, Terri Donaghy (11) from Eglinton, winner of the 8-11 category, only discovered her interest in baking during lockdown but is now keen to become either a chef or a teacher.

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Terri Donaghy

Terri Donaghy

Terri Donaghy

She says she bounced up and down in the kitchen with excitement when she discovered she had won with her version of the chocolate buttermilk cake with coconut cream.

"I was just bored during lockdown so I decided to start baking. I have spent most of the time in lockdown in my kitchen baking cakes and all sorts," Terri says. "Sadly I had a lockdown birthday on July 15 and couldn't really do anything so I decided to make the most out of it and had an afternoon tea party with my family. I baked all of my own tasty treats - I made scones, cookies, lemon drizzle cake, brownies, caramel squares, cupcakes, rocky roads and fifteens. One of the many presents I received was a new mixer - it really was a day to remember."

Terri lives with her mum and dad Carol and Henry, sister Eva (13) and brother James (9) on a farm and says the work kept them busy during lockdown, including milking the cows.

When she finished making her cake, she donned her mask and brought a slice to her grandparents Margaret and James Donaghy who live down the lane.

"I was back to school this week. I was excited but nervous - it was different, but good," she says.

Reuben Dobson (5), from Ballyhackamore in east Belfast won the 4-7-year-old category with his raspberry Greek yoghurt ice cream recipe using berries that he picked himself at his granny's farm.

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Reuben Dobson

Reuben Dobson

Reuben Dobson

His mum Sarah and dad Johnny says Reuben is very into the outdoors and has spent a lot of time during lockdown planting in the garden with his sister Ella (11) and brother Daniel (10).

Sarah says Reuben was very surprised when he learned he'd won.

"He was particularly excited by the value of the voucher and what he was planning to buy with it - he's debating between Lego and a waffle maker," she says.

"He's always been interested in getting involved in the kitchen. He's a very hands-on, outdoors boy and he loves growing vegetables at home, loves collecting eggs from the hens and collecting berries.

"Even in the kitchen he likes jobs like chopping mushrooms - from the age of two he was very keen to help."

An impressed Paula says she was delighted to see such an amazing response to the competition, adding: "Each competitor had put so much heart into their entries and it was touching to see such enthusiasm for their cooking.

"It was also one of the hardest competitions I've ever had to judge because of the exceptionally high standard overall.

"The winning dishes in the end were those by entrants who told a story about how they made the dish and what inspires them in the kitchen - family influence and the sourcing of their ingredients.

"We have such great quality Northern Ireland dairy products, and it was heart-warming to see these talented youngsters embracing the local, butter, cream, cheese and yoghurt used in the recipes.

"I'd like to thank everyone who entered, and I loved seeing all of your dishes.

"Hopefully you will all continue to embrace baking and the great traditions we have here."

Belfast Telegraph