BUDDING culinary stars in Worcestershire are being urged to sharpen their cooking skills in a bid to get a slice of the action working alongside a top celebrity chef.

Michelin star maestro Glynn Purnell is backing University College Birmingham’s Young Chef of the Year competition and is donating the star prize of a VIP food experience at his luxury restaurant in Birmingham.

The winner will get to work alongside Glynn before having a celebration lunch with three guests at Purnell’s.

Glynn’s fellow judges for the grand final include University College Birmingham (UCB) graduate Ben Ebbrell, co-founder of SORTEDfood, one of the world’s biggest online cookery channels with 1.5 million YouTube subscribers.

The competition, which features exciting cook-offs, is open to all Year 10 and Year 11 pupils (aged 14 to 16) throughout the Midlands.

The young chefs selected after a preliminary round will have to cook against the clock and produce a two-course meal for two for £10. Judges are keen to see dishes with a personal/family emphasis and those that reflect the region’s rich food heritage and cultural diversity.

Neil Rippington, Dean of the College of Food at UCB, said: “We are thrilled to be launching the first-ever UCB Young Chef of the Year competition. It will be a showcase for the best cooking talent in the Midlands and it would be great if we could uncover a kitchen star of the future.

“The competition promises to provide great learning opportunities for pupils in Year 10 and Year 11 and we would love to see entries from Worcestershire. We hope it will encourage young people to get involved in cookery, which can open up great job opportunities and serve as a skill for life.”

TV chef Glynn, star of the BBC’s Saturday Kitchen and Great British Menu, said: “I am delighted to be backing UCB’s Young Chef of the Year competition. It is a great opportunity for young chefs to put their skills to the test and gain invaluable experience.

“My fellow judges and I will be looking for well-cooked, tasty food and great flavours. Cooking against the clock is hard so I would advise young chefs to be well prepared and not over-complicate their dishes.”

The first stage of the contest will involve an online entry, or application, in which budding chefs will have to outline a menu for two diners featuring a main course and a dessert. The total budget is £10 and the entry deadline is Friday October 21.

Successful candidates will be asked to cook their dishes, in 90 minutes, during a qualifying heat at UCB’s state-of-the-art competition kitchens in Summer Row, Birmingham. The best of the best will be asked to return in January 2017 to compete at the grand final at UCB.

The pupils’ food costs for the day of the qualifying round and the final, up to the agreed budget, will be reimbursed by UCB.

The competition is being staged with sponsors City and Guilds, The Savoy Educational Trust and the British Culinary Federation.

To enter the competition, visit http://www.ucb.ac.uk/news/latest-news/2016/09/02-ucb-young-chef-of-the-year.aspx and complete the online entry form.

Apart from a chance to cook with Glynn and enjoy a complimentary lunch with three guests, the winner will receive a new smartphone and £500 of Russums cookery equipment vouchers for their school.