THE Somerset Junior Chef of the Year 2024 has been named as 13-year-old Kai Jones after a hotly-contested final.

Kai, who is a student at Merchants Academy, Bristol, was one of the youngest competitors in the Somerset final of this year’s South West Chef of the Year competition.

Seven aspiring chefs, all aged between 13 and 15, battled it out at Bridgwater and Taunton College, Taunton, but Kai took home the accolade thanks to his winning dish.
His dish of Venison leg cooked in hay with roast celeriac and braised red cabbage was judged to be the best of the group, meaning Kai will now go forward to compete in the final against the winners of the five other county competitions on October 5.
The judges for the Somerset final were James Jones the chef lecturer at Bridgwater and Taunton College, Ben Champkin the head chef at Teals in South Cadbury, and Olly Jackson who is Mount Somerset Hotel's head chef in Henlade and will also be mentoring Kai as he prepares for the competition final.
The seven other Somerset finalists were: 
•       Amira, 13, from Holyrood Academy, Chard
•       Henry, 15 from Queens College, Taunton
•       Jenson, 14, from Clevedon School
•       Joel, 14, from Sidcot School, Winscombe
•       Oliver, 14, from Court Fields School, Wellington
•       Tanaya, 13, and Theo, 14, from Westfield Academy, Yeovil
The South West Chef of the Year Competition, which this year is celebrating its 20th anniversary, has categories for junior chefs, home cooks, professional, young professional and student/apprentice chefs. It invites entries from Cornwall, Devon, Dorset, Somerset, Wiltshire and Gloucestershire.
Competition co-founder, chef Michael Caines MBE DL, who is chef/patron at Lympstone Manor in Devon, said the standard of cooking in the Junior finals continued to improve year-on-year.
He said: “Congratulations to Kai on winning this regional final with his excellently cooked venison. It was another very competitive final and again so inspiring to see these young chefs creating amazing food.
“Developing new talent remains one of our key drivers with this competition and it’s gratifying to see many of our previous young winners go on to have successful careers in the catering industry.”
He added: “We are committed to promoting culinary excellence, nurturing talent, and championing the vibrant food culture of the south west.”
Thanks to a partnership with Springboard FutureChef, all six county finalists have the opportunity to go through to the FutureChef regional final in January 2025, bypassing the local rounds of the competition, to compete for a place in the FutureChef national final.
And the overall winner of South West Junior Chef of the Year will be offered the much sought-after opportunity of work experience with Michelin-starred chef, David Everitt-Matthias, at his highly respected restaurant Le Champignon Sauvage in Cheltenham.

Entries are still open in remaining categories including, Professional Chef (for those of any age working as sous chef or above), Young Professional Chef (for those aged 19-24 and working in any position up to junior sous chef), Student/Apprentice Chef (aged 16-19), and Home Cook (aged 16+).
This year’s event culminates with the finals of the Professional and Student/Apprentice Chef categories on Tuesday October 29 at Exeter College, followed that evening by the Awards Presentation Dinner at Exeter Golf and Country Club.
Tickets for the Awards Evening are available to purchase.  The evening features a four-course meal cooked by judges and previous competition winners and offers a unique opportunity to sample high-quality food cooked by the region’s best chefs, Visit for information.