Budding chef in title cook-off

Colac’s Jessica Perkins will compete in an eight-hour cooking regional final today.

COLAC teen Jessica Perkins will pit her talents against five of Victoria’s brightest apprentice cooks.

Jessica, a Trinity College student, will compete in a WorldSkills Victoria cooking regional final at Geelong today in a demanding eight-hour cook-off.

She will create entrées, mains and desserts for four judges who work in the hospitality industry.

The Year 11 student works at Colac’s Fusion Restaurant and studies at Gordon TAFE, through Western District Employment Access.

Jessica, daughter of Colac’s Trudi and Ricky Perkins, said she was “a bit nervous” about the contest, which starts at 8am.

Her entrée will be a warm trout and prawn salad served with eggplant, chilli and lime dressing; her main will be a chicken ballantine stuffed with chicken liver, mushroom and thyme farce, served with potato puree and white wine jus; and a duo of chocolate mousse with raspberry jelly, candied pear and sweet citrus vinaigrette is her dessert.

“I haven’t done it in the time before, I’ve cooked them individually – I’ve still got to change a few things on the day and my uncle Duncan’s helped me because he’s my boss at work as well,” Jessica said.

“The chicken is a big thing because you have to bone the chicken and roll it out, and it’s something I only learned a few weeks ago,” she said.

“It’s going to be fun but it’s going to be scary. I’ll just hope for the best.”

Gary Barnes of WorldSkills’ Geelong office said the competitors for the regional final were from Halls Gap, Traralgon and Geelong because the location of their TAFE provider determined the region they competed in.

Mr Barnes said today’s winner would represent the region in a national competition, together with Geelong winners in automotive, construction, client and service, computing and business, electrotechnology, and manufacturing and engineering.

Jessica said she would go into the regional final with no expectations.

“I think it would just be a really good experience and good learning curve, it’ll be interesting to see everyone else’s talents,” she said.

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