Kia Vincent, a student at Fareham College in Hampshire, beat off stiff competition to be crowned the winner of a national student cookery competition. The competition was organised in partnership with the British Association for Shooting and Conservation (BASC), the UK’s largest shooting organisation and top UK venison processor, Highland Game.

BASC has worked with more than 700 students at technical and professional colleges across the UK since early 2021, highlighting the field to fork journey of game meat, promoting its versatility, benefits and fantastic flavours. The competition, launched following successful outreach and engagement visits by BASC, saw budding chefs from across the UK devise their own canapes using venison mince. Highland Game provided the wild British venison mince to all colleges, ensuring the competition remained inclusive and accessible to all students.

Entries were judged on creativity, recipe clarity, presentation and suitability for the Eat Game Awards ceremony. The top five entries, which included Kia, were incited to cook their dishes for an expert panel of judges before the winner was announced. The judges were in “100 per cent agreement” that Kia should be crowned the winner, with BASC’s wild food officer Matt Gisby calling her a “very worthy winner” with her “standout dish”.

Kia said all five finalists had worked really hard and that she thoroughly enjoyed herself. Commenting; “The pastry was a challenge – I had to do quite a few trials to get the pastry how I wanted. First, I overcooked it, then blended it too fine, but finally got it perfect. The pastry was the main challenge!”

Roy Ashcroft, a catering lecturer at Fareham College, said: “I always thought Kia would have a good chance because she’s really talented. There’s a good backstory to her canape, drawing on her mum and Caribbean influence. When I tasted it, I was just blown away. It’s one of the nicest things I’ve ever had!”

Kia began her studies at Fareham College in 2019, embarking on a Level 1 Professional Cookery course; she is due to complete her Level 3 qualification this summer. Kia has worked alongside her studies, gaining invaluable experience in a commercial kitchen. Kia commented, “I have always been driven to succeed. I wanted to develop and learn a new career path; I started on level 1 and progressed through; I am now completing the Level 3 qualification. I believe that to be great at anything, you need to have a strong foundation and learn the basics.”

Looking toward the future, Kia said she is looking into her options, but her ambition was to open a hotel/restaurant, highlighting the versatile nature and outstanding flavours of Caribbean cuisine. She said, “gaining experience in fine dining and outstanding culinary skills is important in achieving my aims in the future”.