Anna Carmichael, from Liverpool, caught the eye of chefs at Goodison Park – home to Everton Football Club - after winning the regional finals of the national Springboard Futurechef 2014 competition.
Now, after honing her skills in the stadium’s kitchens, the 15-year-old has beaten 11 other finalists – and more than 8000 entrants - from around the UK to win the national final of the cookery talent competition.
Anna wowed judges with a menu of pistachio and mint pulled lamb, pan-seared lamb, shallot puree, butternut squash fondant, sautéed spinach and turned potatoes with a rosemary jus, followed by warm chocolate and raspberry fondant with raspberry syllabub and chocolate chip cookies.
And, as part of her prize package – presented to her by celebrity chef James Martin – the Bellerive FCJ Catholic College student will now spend a day behind the scenes with the Sodexo catering team at Royal Ascot.
In preparation for the final, at Westminster College, London, Anna and her parents went to Goodison Park after school every day for two weeks, where she was mentored by Sodexo Prestige executive head chef Gareth Billington.
“Anna is one of the best students I’ve ever had and she absolutely deserves this prize,” said Gareth, who has mentored three previous Futurechef finalists and one other winner.
“Her commitment is unbelievable and she is a really nice person. For the two weeks leading up to the national final she was dedicated and driven and, on the day, there were a lot of judges and lot of pressure but she handled it really well.
“This is just the start for Anna. We do a lot of work at Goodison Park to bring young culinary talent into the kitchen and give them experience and we look forward to having Anna back to help us on match days.”
David Mulcahy, Sodexo craft development director and Futurechef head judge, said: “The skill and innovation on display from all the Futurechef finalists was of the highest standard, but Anna’s dishes were outstanding.”
“There were so many amazing dishes,” said Anna. “I’m so shocked I won.”