Pupils from Country Range Group customer Woodlands Primary School have been named the 2019 McDougalls Young Baking Team of the Year.

The winning team from Formby, Liverpool, cooked its way to first place with its Woodlands Garden, impressing judges with the incredible presentation and attention to detail, achieving the highest score ever in the five year history of the competition. Grace (aged 10), Amy (aged 10) and Laura (aged 8), supported by their school caterer, Holly Charnock, used rhubarb and raspberries from their own school garden, honey from a local bee hive and eggs from the caterer’s pet chickens in their dish, adhering brilliantly to the locally sourced ingredients competition theme. The final took place at LACA: The Main Event on July 11, with five shortlisted schools cooking in front of a live audience.

Sarah Robb, foodservice channel marketing manager at Premier Foods, comments: “Every year we are absolutely blown away by the standard of food the pupils produce and this year was no exception. Every dish was so well thought through, presented beautifully and had delicious local ingredients incorporated into the recipe. We want to say a huge thank you to all those who attended the final, it was a brilliant day. The dish from Woodlands Primary School was nothing like I have ever seen before, the imagination behind the edible garden was outstanding, from candy floss trees to cupcake plant pots and coconut grass, it was amazing and tasted phenomenal.

“As the day progressed you could see each child grow in confidence, boosted by a mindfulness workshop, in partnership with Mind Birmingham, ahead of the competition to help calm any final nerves.  It’s wonderful to see them relax into it and enjoy the journey together as a team, that is why we do this every year. A huge congratulations to everyone involved.”

The judges – Andrew Green, representing the Craft Guild of Chefs; Carol Harwood, representing LACA; Mark Rigby, executive chef at Premier Foods and brand new guest judge, Professor Tanya Byron – had the tough challenge of choosing one overall winner from the outstanding finalists in attendance. The judges scored Woodlands Primary School highly on the taste and presentation of the dish as well as the teamwork and enthusiasm they displayed throughout the day, with two of the four judges awarding full marks, resulting in the highest total score ever. The school was awarded £1,000 worth of kitchen equipment, a prize which was presented to them by Michael Hales, Chair of LACA, encouraging the pupils to continue their passion for sourcing ingredients and using it to make tasty dishes.

Holly Charnock, school caterer from Woodlands Primary School, commented: “I want to say a huge thank you to all the team for such an enjoyable day yesterday, winning the competition really was a dream come true for all of us. I think it has only just hit me that it really did happen!

“It has been a once in a lifetime experience for the pupils and to see the growth in their confidence and cookery skills over the past few months has made all the hard work so worthwhile. The pupils are still so excited they want to wear their hats, aprons and medals to tell the whole school about their winning moment. They worked so well as a team and were so happy to simply be there and be able to take part in the final, let alone winning. To know we have achieved the highest score in the history of the competition really is the cherry on top of the cake. I urge any school thinking of entering to do so, it’s a fabulous opportunity which helps the children develop in both a social and academic way, I feel so proud to have been part of the journey.”