You can tell the British beef ban is over when competitions sporting titles as unlikely as the “Standard beef mince Young Chef Challenge” start cropping up.
Despite its less than lyrical tagline, however, this contest, launched by the English Beef and Lamb Executive (EBLEX), offers young learners the incentive to become self-educated, dynamic self-starters in the culinary arts, while serving to reinforce the importance of a healthy balanced diet (and potentially reinvigorating the British farming industry at the same time).
EBLEX is looking for students to submit an original recipe and photograph of their favourite Quality Standard beef mince dish, to demonstrate the “ease and versatility of cooking with beef mince”. Recipes can be reworked classics or entirely original creations, providing they have been developed and cooked from scratch.
Food for Thought
Denise Spencer-Walker, Food Advisor EBLEX, commented on the competition, which is free to enter and open to all secondary schools in England, saying: “The Quality Standard beef mince Young Chef Challenge promises to help encourage young people to get cooking, educate them on how to identify quality ingredients but most importantly show them that cooking can be fun.”
Celebrity Chef James Martin is fronting the competition, judging entries and joining a special culinary “cook-off” competition tour in October 2006. The best entries will be invited to regional cook-off finals to be judged by Martin and a panel of experts from EBLEX.
The standards body is also offering a plethora of other prizes, including cooking workshops with a top English chef, £200 worth of school equipment vouchers, professional chef whites and signed cook books from Martin himself. If this isn”t enough to get the juices flowing, EBLEX is also offering each of the first 200 schools to register for the competition 10 free copies of its new recipe book ““ the alliteratively titled Mince Magic. Vegetarians, look away now.
EBLEX launched the Quality Standard label in 2005 to help shoppers identify meat that has been specially produced for consistent eating quality. Found on Quality Standard beef mince in supermarkets and butchers, the logo indicates the meat in question is made from farm assured beef that is processed in accordance with strict quality assurance standards.
Since the ban on beef following the BSE crisis in 1996, British beef has suffered from an undeservedly poor reputation, both at home and abroad, which has served to all but destroy the livestock industry in Britain. While clearly not everyone, in particular the non-meat eaters among us, will want to “make it with mince”, Britain’s farmers will surely welcome evidence of innovative thinking in the fight to reinstate the reputation of their produce, and the industry in general.
Oh, and the kids will benefit too ““ of course.
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