“I'd be completely gobsmacked if I won" says finalist of culinary scholarship competition (From Harrow Times)
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Shivani Hirani battles to win scholarship with Le Cordon Bleu and chance to work with acclaimed chef Pierre Koffmann
A self-taught teenage chef from Kenton has shown that she can definitely stand the heat by reaching the finals of a competition to win a £30,000 culinary scholarship.
Shivani Hirani, of St Paul’s Avenue, is battling against seven other 17 to 20 year olds for a place on the Le Grand Diplôme course, run by Le Cordon Bleu at its Centre of Excellence in Bloomsbury Square, London.
She said winning the competition would be a dream come true.
The 17-year-old said: “I would be completely gobsmacked if I won.
“I’m a bit nervous because it would mean working in a big busy restaurant in central London but at the same time I’m really excited.”
The prize money will pay for the training, accommodation fees and include an apprenticeship with acclaimed chef Pierre Koffmann at his Knightsbridge restaurant, The Berkeley.
The final will take place on March 27, when all eight finalists get to view a practical session and recreate the dish in one of Le Cordon Bleu’s kitchens.
Applicants will be judged on how well they listen, observe and approach the practical session and not how the dish tastes.
Ms Hirani attends Claremont High School and has had no formal cooking training other than at GCSE, in which she received an A*.
She added: “I have been cooking from a young age and I do it as a hobby.
“I am completely self-taught but I had a lot of influence from my parents and my cousin who is a chef at a vegan restaurant inspired me.
“I don’t have a signature dish. I just like trying out new ingredients and new things.”
During the first round Ms Hirani had to upload a video of about why she wanted the scholarship.
From those applicants 18 were called for an interview and eight finalists were chosen from the group.
The winner of the contest will be announced at an evening reception on the day of the final.