This year, Food24 launched its NextGen competition. The online competition was driven by Food24 and, together with partner Philips, aimed to find the next generation of talented young chefs. Food24 NextGen challenged students from around the country to submit recipes according to a monthly theme, together with either a photograph or video. The entries were then judged by a panel of local culinary stars, including James Gaag (La Colombe), Peter Tempelhoff (The Collection), Sam Linsell (Drizzle and Dip food blog), Hope Malau (Taste Magazine’s Deputy Food editor), Elke van Vledder (Marketing Manager Domestic Appliances Philips South Africa) and Tessa Purdon (Food24’s Editor).

The judging criteria were that the recipe needed to be an original creation, include costing, showcase knowledge and understanding of current world food trends, and show execution and styling/photography skills or video flow.

“There is considerable food talent in this country and as the biggest online foodie destination in South Africa with over 33 000 recipes, we were honoured to be a showcase for the next generation of chefs,” says Tessa Purdon, Food24 editor.  “Our aim with Food24 NextGen was to combine technology with talent. Food is eaten with the eyes first so we wanted to provide a visual platform for young chefs-in-training to not only create award-winning recipes but also to produce content that allows our readers to almost “taste” the finished product.”

The themes and the category winners are:

Easter theme
Winner: Meanda Mills from Institute of Culinary Arts
Recipe: Hot cross bun cruffins with white chocolate sauce and tiramisu eggnog

Baking theme
Winner: Alisha Van Heerden Institute of Culinary Arts
Recipe: Mieliepap cake with a buffalo yoghurt icing

Low carb theme
Winner: Frances Beresford of Institute of Culinary Arts
Recipe: Low carb smoorsnoek cottage pie

Chocolate theme
Winner: Cebile Maboea of Institute of Culinary Arts
Recipe: Biscuit cone chocolate freakshakes

Braai theme
Student:  Darien Prophet of Institute of Culinary Arts
Recipe: Apple Tarte Tatin on the braai

Winning the competition overall was Meanda Mills (21) from the Institute of Culinary Arts, whose recipe for Hot Cross Bun Cruffins with White Chocolate Sauce and Tiramisu Eggnog impressed the judges. Said judge Sam Linsell of Meanda’s entry: “It was all round a winning recipe and completely on trend.  It sounded delicious, it looked delicious and it was innovative which made it stand out. From a visual perspective, I think Meanda’s got a lovely creative eye. The image was very nicely styled and the composition was good.”

The winning school was the Institute of Culinary Arts that proudly trains all five of the winners.

Food24 NextGen was sponsored by Phillips Kitchen Appliances and Meanda walks away with R45 000 worth of appliances and a R15 000 cash prize from Food24.  Phillips also awarded monthly prizes to the category finalists and a R30 000 Phillips hamper to the winning culinary school.

Competition winner, Meanda Mills said: “The thing about cooking and the magic behind it is that you can create the most beautiful dishes with a few basic ingredients.  Food brings people together and with food and people you create endless memories.  Food has and always will be my passion and I am thrilled to have won Food24’s first ever NextGen – especially when the standard of entries was so high.”