Kitchen Dreams: Junior Inspired Chef winner on how competition helped shape her future

11 July 2024

Junior Inspired Chef contestant preparing a dish

Junior Inspired Chef is back for another year! Enthusiastic cooks aged between 13 and 16 are encouraged to apply for the five-week competition, where they will be trained in the prestigious Chefs’ Whites kitchen at Suffolk New College by their head chefs and students.

Last year, 13-year-old Mia won the competition, and speaking to Inspire she described what it was like working under direction from Salthouse Harbour Hotel’s head chef Luke Bailey.

“Cooking with him and learning from him was a great experience,” Mia said. “We learnt how he organises his kitchen and how formal and organised everything has to be. It was great.”

Junior Inspired chef competition winner Mia holding her trophy and certificate
Junior Inspired chef competition winner Mia

She explained how the experience has shaped what she wants to do in the future. “It definitely reinforced that I want to do a catering course at college,” she said. “It gave me an idea of how my future would look if I worked in a professional kitchen.

“I’d love to work in a restaurant – it was so exciting being in a kitchen. I’d love to work where Luke Bailey is – the Salthouse – a fancy restaurant where they make lots of different dishes and it’s all very specific.”

Each week the Junior Inspired Chef contestants were tasked with cooking a different item ahead of the finale, which saw them work as a team to serve a meal for guests in the Chefs’ Whites kitchen at Suffolk New College. They also raised over £4000 for Inspire at the same time.

The chefs were tasked with making things such as sausage rolls, cheese twists, dinner rolls and soup.

Junior Inspired chef contestants with Salthouse head chef Luke Bailey
Junior Inspired chef contestants with Salthouse head chef Luke Bailey

“We made eclairs, which involved making our own choux pastry,” Mia added. “It was challenging, but a good experience to learn how to make that. I don’t think any of us had done it before. I practiced at home because it was a difficult thing to master.”

Discussing her new culinary talents, Mia said: “My skills were a bit random; I knew how to cook some basics, but I’ve learnt so much. I’ve picked up little hacks in the kitchen, like how to properly chop an onion, or how to make pastry. I took home a lot of ideas for recipes to make in the future.”

This year’s competition will be taking place at Chefs’ Whites Restaurant – 1 Rope Walk, IP4 1LT, every Tuesday from 18:30 to 20:30, starting 10th September 2024, and for the main event on Tuesday 15th October 2024.

To register your interest or find out more information contacting