Ellie Shaw, a trainer at The Clink restaurant in Brixton prison, will represent Great Britain in a top international cooking contest next year.
She beat off competition from other young chefs from top luxury restaurants to become the Chaîne des Rôtisseurs Young Chef of the Year 2020.
The Chaîne des Rôtisseurs is an international society which brings together professional and non-professional members who appreciate wine, cuisine and fine dining. It has more than 25,000 members in over 80 countries.
Ellie, 23, has spent the last three years working at The Clink – the charity that trains prisoners in order to reduce reoffending rates and prepare them for a career.
Originally from Stoke on Trent and with a first-class degree in culinary art from the University of West London, she is sous chef trainer based at HMP Brixton.
It is a very worthwhile job, she says.
“It’s not just about being a chef, but also sharing a passion for food and inspiring inmates on their chosen path.
“I might be a teacher, but I am learning all the time, too.”
This was the first competition that Ellie had ever entered.
“I was happy just to be selected for the final – and was definitely not expecting to win the actual title,” she says.
To do that, back in March, she and two other young chef finalists battled it out to create and present a three-course menu from a mystery box of ingredients.
Her combination of dishes, cooked from memory, were: grilled trout with rillette, crème fraiche, apple and dill oil ; steak and oyster mushroom pie, caramelised shallots, Savoy cabbage, sage potato tuille and beer sauce; and apple and ginger crumble, poached rhubarb and orange Chantilly.
“I decided to stick to what I knew, and not overcomplicate anything,” says Ellie.
“I concentrated on British classics that diners would order in a restaurant.”
Ellie will represent Great Britain in the Chaîne’s world championships in France next September.
“I would like to thank my whole team who have been right behind me from the start of this competition, and will be now as I train for Paris next year,” she said.
Christopher Moore, CEO of The Clink charity said: “We are absolutely delighted.
“Our students were so pleased, too, to hear about this Award to Ellie, and feel very proud that she is training them to gain skills to pass their City and Guilds National Vocational Qualifications in food preparation and cookery.”