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Schoolboy chef cooks up a storm on Junior Masterchef

By The Citizen  |  Posted: November 19, 2012

FINALIST: Tom Barlow-Kay, 12, of Stroud.

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SCHOOLBOY Tom Barlow-Kay has cooked up a storm to reach the finals of Junior Masterchef.

The 12-year-old from Stroud was one of 32 children from across the UK to take part in the televised competition.

He dazzled chef John Torode and food blogger Donal Skehan with the quality of his dishes and display of skills.

This week Tom, who attends Marling School, will be competing to be named the best young cook in the country by taking part in a number of challenges.

Today, he will face the experience of a lifetime by cooking in a professional kitchen in Berkshire under 18-year-old head chef Luke Thomas.

At Luke's Dining Room, the restaurant of a boutique hotel, Tom and his fellow competitors will be given a tour of the kitchen before being challenged to prepare dishes for guests.

The cooking challenges continue for the rest of the week, with the four finalists making their best two-course menu for the reigning Junior Masterchef champion, Georgia, feeding 50 members of the Notting Hill Carnival Band and delivering dishes from four corners of the world for four 10-year-old stars from the West End musical Matilda.

The final test, screened on Friday, will involve the four competitors making their best three-course menu for the Masterchef judges.

Tom started cooking when he was nine.

"I used to watch my parents cook and decided to give it a go myself," he said.

He said he felt "really excited yet nervous at the same time" when he got through to the final four in the competition, but added that John and Donal were really kind about his food.

"They were very encouraging, saw promise in me and inspired me to keep pushing myself," he said.

Tom, who has an eight-year-old brother Huw, wants to be a chef or a musician when he is older.

He said his signature dish was Bakewell tart, which he often cooks for people's birthdays.

"The thing I love best about cooking is the feeling of the heat coming from the pan and seeing people smile when they taste my food," he said.

"The best moment of the competition was cooking at Luke's Dining Room in Berkshire – seeing the care that was taken with each part of the cooking process and how perfect everything had to be delivered."

■ Junior Masterchef will be on CBBC and BBC 1 at 4.30pm every weekday this week.

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