A teenage chef studying at Penrice Academy in St Austell has been named South West Junior Chef of the Year.  

Freya Barrett, 14, qualified for the final for the second consecutive year, after jointly winning Cornwall’s competition in June. 

She has added the South West accolade to a string of previous wins and placings – with more competitions on the horizon.  

The South West Chef of the Year 2023 awards were announced last week at a presentation dinner at Exeter Golf and Country Club. 

Seven finalists, aged from 13 to 15 and all winners in their own county, had been asked to prepare a main course dish earlier in October for judges in collaboration with professional mentors.  

Under the tutelage of Tim Kendall – chef proprietor of The Barley Sheaf, Gorran and The Rising Sun, Altarnun – Freya wowed judges with Creedy Carver chicken breast Boudin, smoked mash, carrot purée, Roscoff onion, tenderstem broccoli, red wine jus and chicken skin crisp.  

In fact, Freya is the next generation in a dynasty of chefs: her father, Craig, is an award-winning head chef who now offers private catering under the name Duchy Chef. Freya helps out during weekends and holidays.  

He described his daughter’s achievements as “absolutely phenomenal”, adding: “At her age, I was a kitchen porter in a pub, wanting to be a chef and about to do work experience. 

“In comparison, she has been coming to kitchens with me for years, running around pastry and seeing live lobsters. She’s like a sponge, taking it all in, and extremely focused – she wants it.”  

So it’s unsurprising that Freya is unfazed by her win. 

“I’ve been around it my whole life,” she said. Asked about the challenge of cooking with a pro, she answered, cool as a cucu- mber: “I’ve known Tim since I was seven, so it was nothing new.” 

In Year 10 at school, she’s something of a poster girl for the catering department, with her own recipe board outside the kitchen and her image on the website. 

“The teachers always ask me how it went, and if I’ve won, they might congratulate me in front of the class, or even assembly,” she said, with an air of acute embarrassment.  

Next up is the Springboard FutureChef competition – having won the Cornwall heat earlier this year and been placed third in the national contest, Freya is keen to retain her county title and have another stab at the UK trophy.   

What are her hopes for the future? 

“Everyone’s goal is to own their own restaurant,” she said, “but I’ll be happy to be working with the best – or even be one of the best.” 

Alex Sainsbury, hospitality and catering teacher at Penrice Academy, said: “Everyone at Penrice is thrilled about the progress Freya has made over the past two    years.  

“She has taken part in a number of competitions, highlighting her wide-ranging skills in hospitality and catering; and has won a number of prestigious awards, showing an exceptional level of skill, competence and passion for cooking.  

“Her skills, knowledge of flavours, local and seasonal ingredients and cooking techniques are second to none, and I know she will continue to excel. 

“We wish her every luck and success.”   

The award for best showcase of regional ingredients award went to student/apprentice chef finalist Lottie Gentile, from The Idle Rocks, St Mawes and Truro and Penwith College.  

Lottie cooked a starter of partridge with a Cornish mead glaze, pumpkin purée and mulled beetroot, followed by a main of pan-fried sea bass with autumn vegetables and a Camel Valley Bacchus wine sauce.   

Professional chef finalist Simon Davies, head chef of The Rising Sun in Altarnun, saw his starter of cured brill, smoked mussels, carrot dressing, tarragon mayonnaise and pumpkin seeds named the best presented dish in the competition. 

Judges included South West chef luminaries such as Nathan Outlaw, Michael Caines MBE, Peter Gorton and Neil Haydock.