A teenager from Pontypridd has been crowned the UK’s top young student pastry chef after winning a national competition.
Eighteen-year-old Josie Wheeler, who is currently studying a Level 3 professional patisserie course at Nantgarw campus – Coleg y Cymoedd, beat seven other budding patisserie stars from across the UK to take home the title at the 2022 Young Student Pastry Chef of the Year competition.
She scooped the top prize after impressing a star-studded panel of industry leading judges, including Bake Off the Professional’s Benoit Blin, with her creations at the grand finals held at the Hotel Café Royal in London.
Run by the Chef’s Forum, the Young Student Pastry Chef of the Year celebrates the very best young talent in the patisserie industry and is open to all pastry chefs currently in education.
Josie was selected from hundreds of applications as a finalist after submitting a photo, video and description of her own dessert creation. During the finals, she was tasked with designing and creating 12 portions of a ‘dessert on the go’ out of ingredients supplied on site.
Josie said: “The competition was an incredible experience and I’m so happy to have won. I’m really grateful to have met such amazing people during the competition, especially all the judges. I have always believed that if something doesn’t challenge you, it won’t change you. Being challenged is important to developing your skills and I thought if I don’t challenge myself now, when will I?”
The competition had a stellar judging chef panel including names like Bake Off The Professionals judge Benoit Blin, pastry chef at The Dorchester in London, Michael Kwan, pastry chef at The Savoy, Daniel Pearse, and Pastry Sous Chef at Le Manoir aux Quat’ Saisons, Jamie Houghton.
Josie’s triumph saw her win a £400 voucher from Mitchell & Cooper, a range of products from HB Ingredients, a selection of cooking utensils and equipment , a HB Ingredients pastry demo at the college, as well as afternoon tea for two at The Dorchester.
Once she completes her studies, Josie aims to secure a position at a well-known patisserie restaurant where she will be able to experiment with new flavours and techniques and learn from experienced members of staff. She hopes that winning the competition will open the door to great opportunities in the future.
Ian Presgrave, Hospitality and Catering lecturer at Coleg y Cymoedd, said: “We are incredibly proud of Josie for her fantastic achievements, which highlight the immense talent that we are producing at Coleg y Cymoedd within the catering department. Josie should take pride in herself for her success and dedication to the art of Patisserie.”