Cheshire College learner impresses judges at the Watercress Challenge

George Johnson, 18, studying Level 3 Professional Cookery, at the Colleges Ellesmere Port Campus, impressed judges with his vibrant soup dish securing 3rd place in this year’s Watercress Challenge.  

Launched in October, the competition was brought to life by Murray Chapman of Passion to Inspire, with the aim of encouraging young chefs to cook and work with watercress. The Watercress Challenge has been a great success, attracting 52 fantastic entries form 18 colleges nationwide, engaging learners and lecturers and inspiring their culinary knowledge and tastebuds.  

A panel of carefully selected culinary experts were chosen to judge the learner’s entries.  

Mick Burke was one of many impressed with George’s dish, commenting: “The vibrant colour of watercress in the soup, crispy texture of smoked haddock fish cake with the traditional finish of a poached egg was perfect. An excellent combination of textures and flavours within this dish.” 

George won a stunning set of engraved WUSTHOF knives for his work. He said: ‘’My time at College has been really enjoyable and being able to get involved with challenges like this has definitely been a highlight.” 

Hospitality and Catering Lecturer at Cheshire College, Angel Ralchev, commented: ‘’We are incredibly grateful to Passion to Inspire and all the judges for giving up their time in order to support, teach and develop our learners. It really is an invaluable experience for them, and we are overjoyed that George gained 3rd place.” 

Murray Chapman, Director at Passion to Inspire, commented: “When you plan a competition you never know what response you will get – but I am absolutely blown away by all the hard work that all these young chefs have put into their dishes and the support they have had from brilliant lecturers – thank you.” 

Karl Pendlebury, from the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB), said: “It is amazing to see the inspiration that has been brought to the table by talented learners under the watchful eye of their dedicated lecturers, showcasing that Watercress in fact as an ingredient that brings many qualities to a dish (and not just a garnish).” 

If you would like to know more about studying at Cheshire College – South & West visit