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Granny gives young cook the true taste for success

One budding young chef used the skills she learned from her grandmother to win the 2014 Dairy Council for Northern Ireland's Young Cook of the Year competition.

Aquinas Grammar School pupil Elizabeth Cathcart is the toast of the culinary world after seeing off competition from nine other finalists at a Masterchef-style cook-off at Sacred Heart Grammar School, Newry.

The 16-year-old from Belfast took inspiration from this year's theme of the Fifa World Cup in Brazil to create a celebratory two-course meal for four people with a Latin-American feel.

The two tasty dishes on the menu were tomato, basil and chilli soup with sun-dried tomato and Parmesan bread, followed by a spinach, ricotta and mushroon quiche with mixed greens.

After making it through the Belfast heat of the competition, Elizabeth's menu took her all the way to the final ā€“ which she won.

"I really wasn't expecting it, it was such an amazing moment," the teenager said.

"I used lots of techniques to make my bread, it was shaped like a plait.

"The judges said they were impressed."

Elizabeth's proud grandmother, also named Elizabeth, taught the talented youngster how to prepare tasty dishes from a young age. She is thrilled with her win.

"My granny was always a keen baker and cook," Elizabeth said.

"She was so shocked and happy for me."

Elizabeth, who also plays table tennis for Ulster and coaches at Ormeau Table Tennis Club, says cooking and baking make her very happy.

"It helps me relax and chill out," she said.

"It is especially good during exam time.

"I have always cooked, since I was about five or six. I have been cooking more recently with the GSCE practical and my teacher is pushing me on. I especially like baking. I would say bread is my speciality. I make pretty good bread."

Aquinas' head of home economics Catherine McCrossan is thrilled for her star pupil.

"She's a natural," Mrs McCrossan said.

"The bread she made really impressed. Her granny taught her as a young child so I can't take credit for the bread!"

Dr Mike Johnston, chief executive of the Dairy Council for Northern Ireland, said the standard was exceptional.

"We would like to congratulate all pupils who took part in the competition, and particularly our winner Elizabeth for the skill she has shown in creating a dish that combines great taste with good nutrition," he said.

"At the Dairy Council we recognise that cooking skills are an important tool to enable young people to adopt healthier eating habits, and that includes using milk and dairy products creatively to make tasty, balanced meals."

The annual competition has been developed in consultation with the Council for the Curriculum, Examinations and Assessment in Northern Ireland.

It supports and encourages students' practical work in home economics.

Belfast Telegraph