The Art School in Liverpool’s Daniela Tucci wins North West Young Chef of the Year award
PUBLISHED: 00:00 12 August 2016
Formby pastry chef has the culinary world at her feet.
Passion can produce a lot of things, and for Daniela Tucci, it helps her create truly outstanding food. The 19-year-old from Formby has recently proved this in being crowned the North West Young Chef of the Year – the first female to do so in the 14 year history of the competition.
The talented pastry chef, who works at the Lancashire Life Restaurant of the Year 2015, The Art School in Liverpool, will now go on to compete in the finals of the Craft Guild of Chef’s National Young Chef Competition in London in October, after blitzing through the semi-finals.
‘I feel really proud that I have managed to get this far, especially with it being my first go at the competition,’ said Daniela, who has just finished her studies at the City of Liverpool College catering school, securing distinctions in both her Level 3 NVQ and patisserie course. ‘It was nice to learn about the other side of the kitchen, thinking of a concept, costing and evolving them into dishes with chef. When Paul picked me, I was really excited to give it a go.’
Daniela, who was originally born in Venezuela, said that from a young age she has always been around the kitchen. As a child, her au pair used to put her on the kitchen counter to watch her cook, and from then on she’s enjoyed helping and cooking the tea. ‘I used to come in from school and instead of wanting to watch the TV, I would be in the kitchen helping my mum out.’
She started at the Art School just over 18 months ago as an apprentice after being noticed by chef patron, Paul Askew, at the International Festival of Business in 2014. However, Daniela wasn’t actually a member of the college team helping out with the catering.
‘She had actually just come along to do some work experience as a commis chef,’ explained Paul, who also scooped an award at last year’s ceremony for Lancashire Life Chef of the Year 2015. ‘Straight away I knew from seeing and talking to her how passionately she worked and took her on immediately.
‘It’s been great to see her grow from a school girl into a professional young lady who has the world at her feet with great prospects. We have put someone forward for the competition since it began, and this year I chose Daniela as I want to push her further. It’s about individual development but it’s also great for the rest of the team and to show off what talent we have up here - it’s not just about London.’
Although Daniela’s strength lies within pastry, it was actually something she never wanted to go onto in the first place. ‘It was only when I came here they put me on pastry and I realised I was actually quite good at it. It’s where I feel at home now; it fits me and what I am about. The competition has put me out of comfort zone as I had to cook meat which is what I have trained the least in, but it’s a good challenge. ’
The young chef’s talent for desserts was echoed by chairman of judges and award winning Master Chef, Brian Mellor. ‘Daniela demonstrated great calm and at a time of great pressure, she was cooking with a smile on her face. Her dessert is really what put her ahead of the rest – it was exceptional.’
So what does the future hold for Daniela? She would like to travel and work in different cultures, but for now is more than happy to stay where she is. Paul has recently offered her a full time position at The Art School as a chef de partie patisserie, and Daniela has said without his support she wouldn’t be where she is today.
‘He genuinely wants to help people grow and develop. It’s a huge honour to have him as a mentor. We are quite a young team here and that creates a great atmosphere as we all grow together.’