Guild of Food Writers - Young Food Writers Competition Winners 2022
The Guild of Food Writers, in partnership with The Week Junior and our sponsor Sacla’,are delighted to announce the winners of the Guild’s Young Food Writer of the Year competition.
This year, to tie in loosely with the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations, the theme was ‘Food Fit for a Queen’. Entrants were encouraged to let their creative juices flow and to write about fictional queens, historical queens or even culinary queens for a chance to win the competition.
Now in its 15th year, it’s the only national food-writing competition open to children. The entrants were divided into three age categories (10 years and under, 11-14 years, and 15-18 years), with a winner per category.
Winners and Runners Up
10 years old and under
Winner: Florrie Dalgleish - 'The Crown Jewels Cake'
Aged 8, from Malmesbury
Judge Tom Parker Bowles said, “Wow! Far and away the winner, this is almost Dahlesque in its language, wonder and whimsy. It flows beautifully and is filled with a childlike joy of sweets.”
Runner-Up: Erin Nelligan - 'Queen Aurora and her Robot'
Aged 6, from Whitstable.
Judge Stefan Gates said, “A breathless and bonkers food-and-fairy-tale fever dream. I loved this for its window into the wildly excitable mind of a six-year-old who loves food and flavours.”
11-14 years old
Winner: Ciara Martin - 'Food Fit for a Queen'
Aged 12, from Glasgow.
Judge Karen Barnes said,“There’s so much to love about this piece: it’s fun, it’s quirky and it’s evocative about food with memories attached – with a pairing we all still love to eat.”
Runner-Up: Caitlyn Chung - 'Food Fit for a Queen'
Aged 11, from London.
Judge Kalpna Woolf said, “Very descriptive of the food and the table.”
15 - 18 years old
Winner: Maryam Ahmed - 'A Modern Tea Party'
Aged 18, from Birmingham.
Judge Xanthe Clay said, “Maryam’s poem feels personal and relevant, the mosaic of the second-generation experience of flavour, interwoven with acutely observed cultural detail.”
Runner Up: Isabel Wen - 'Fit for a Queen'
Aged 15, from Sevenoaks.
Judge Yotam Ottolenghi said, “Isabel displays some extraordinary writing skills with great descriptions.”
Thanks go to our panel of judges: Karen Barnes, editorial director of award-winning delicious magazine; Xanthe Clay, Telegraph columnist, chef and food writer; Stefan Gates, documentary maker, TV presenter and author; Samuel Goldsmith, Guild Vice-Chair and Food Copy Editor at BBC Good Food and olive magazines; Vanessa Harriss, Managing Editor of The Week Junior magazine; Ben Isaacs, Features Editor of The Week Junior magazine; Yotam Ottolenghi, restaurateur, author and columnist; Tom Parker Bowles, food writer and food critic, and Kalpna Woolf, food writer and author.
Thanks to our sponsor Sacla’ and Clare Blampied, MD, who says, “We care very deeply about the food lives of the future generations, and so it’s been a sheer delight to sponsor this writing competition. We believe that food is joy, and this has been wonderfully reflected in all the submissions we have read - bravi a tutti!”
And thank you to The Week Junior for helping the Guild to encourage young people to really engage with the subject of food and thinking about how they write about it.
You can also find a copy of the programme here.
To read the winning entries click 'more' below.
Winner: Florrie Dalgleish
Aged 8, from Malmesbury.
The Crown Jewels Cake
The Queen has a delicious secret. On very grand occasions, when she has to wear the Crown Jewels, she orders her palace chefs to get baking. What you think is gold, silver and jewels on her head is actually sweet, mouthwatering, scrumdiddlyumptious cake.
It all starts with a Victoria sponge, with extra strawberry jam, especially for her Majesty. The chefs then whip up soft clouds of dark blackberry meringue, smooth as velvet and light as a feather. The furry trim is pearly candy floss. The chefs once tried vanilla ice cream, but it began to melt!
The ornate crown shimmers in the sunlight, not from gold, but from marshmallow Rice Krispy cakes delicately formed like fairy wings and sprayed with edible iridescent glitter for extra sparkle. Each individual glistening silver sugar ball is glued into place using tweezers and a magnifying glass.
The dazzling gems are boiled sweets of every scrumptious flavour; the rubies are passionfruit; the emeralds are fizzy lime; the sapphires are bursting blackcurrants, and the diamonds are cut from Fox’s Glacier Mints. The biggest reddest rubiest ruby is, in fact, an Everlasting Gobstopper, given to the Queen by Willy Wonka when she awarded him for Services to Sweets.
Once, the Queen left the cake crown in her drawing-room. She came back to find her corgis had eaten the whole thing. She was not amused! Luckily the chefs had time to make another cake crown, and now the corgis always get a slice.
Runner-Up: Erin Nelligan
Aged 6, from Whitstable.
Queen Aurora and her Robot
On Monday I spent a day with queen Aurora. She wore a light pink ball gown with gold coloured edges, dark pink velvet around her waist and five gold pictures of flowers. She had a robot butler named Erin, made of diamonds. The robot somehow absorbs food.
For Breakfast, I made them flamingo pink salmon, marmalade orange beans, coffee brown sausages and ruby red tomatoes. We also slurped crimson red grape juice.
For Lunch, we devoured lovely rose pink tuna, grass green cucumbers, daffodil yellow pasta and a boiled egg. We also sipped apple juice.
For Dinner, we munched on crunchy beef, fried chicken and sub-zero ham.
For Dessert, I visited Aco in China by helicopter. It was encrusted with rubies, emeralds, sapphires, gold, silver and bronze. Aco suggested wobbly Ice-cream. Then I visited Elesa in Spain, she suggested Churros with melted chocolate and sugar. Finally, I visited Lauren in England. She suggested cake with purple icing, melted chocolate and sprinkles. I brought the desserts back to Aurora.
Suddenly a witch named Zenia appeared, but I baked a food monster using every type of food: spices, sweets, vegetables, fruits and meat. I named the food monster Alan. Zenia attacked us. Unexpectedly, Erin, the robot gobbled Alan the good food monster and Zenia the witch up!
We sprinted back to the dining room and chomped the desserts all up. It was so yummy!!!
Winner: Ciara Martin
Aged 12, from Glasgow.
Food Fit for a Queen
The queen invited me for tea,
In a little cottage beside the sea,
As the fire was on it was so warm,
Such a change to the mighty storm.
She greeted me with a little wink,
And then looked down to take a drink,
She clicked her fingers once, then twice,
And two dishes appeared of steaming rice,
With a creamy sauce and some coronation chicken,
I couldn’t wait to just go and lick in.
As I was enjoying my lovely food
The Queen put up a hand and said
“I don’t mean to be rude
But the chicken is a little dry,
Please take it away for another try.”
The plates were very quickly swapped,
And the table very quickly mopped,
In Front of me was a lovely dish,
Of chickpea cassoulet and fish,
The Queen cried, “Oh help me no!
This will also have to go!”
Away it was sent in a flash of light,
Before I could take a single bite,
I looked ‘round in despair
as my tummy did a rumble,
The Queen shook her head
and then started to fumble.
The new plates were served in a big China bowl,
With posh linguine and some casserole,
The Queen sighed as tired as can be,
“The colour is a little off you see!”
The food was gone in less than a second,
The Queen looked at me and then slowly beckoned,
I leaned in closely as I wanted to hear,
And she said, “What do you want for dessert my dear?
Some spotted dick? Some macaroons?
Some pastries with a kick? Some golden prunes?”
I thought for a minute then slowly said,
“Can I have some jelly and ice-cream instead?”
The Queen cried, “No! This will not do!
Are you sure you don’t want ONE macaroon?”
“Please Queen?” I said, very disheartened,
The Queen's face slowly darkened.
“Two jelly and ice-creams,” she said with a sigh,
“Please Queen,” I repeated, “ Just one little try?”
Her bowl was placed in front of her,
The next few seconds were quite a blur,
As she took the first bite,
Her face turned to the utmost delight,
She said, “I love this super treat!
Everyone! Please take a bite to eat!”
And that is how the very posh Queen,
Is not as posh as she may seem,
Food fit for a Queen is what you make it,
And it is literally impossible to fake it!
Runner-Up: Caitlyn Chung
Aged 11, from London
Food Fit for a Queen
I politely tied my napkin to the nape of my neck and slipped into my seat, opposite the Queen, Elizabeth II. I gazed across the tableclothed table at the various types of food. In the middle, was a 3-tier cake stand, made of porcelain. It had intricate designs in black that wove its way around. I spotted flowers with twisted vines and leaves decorating it and I couldn’t help but think, this is beautiful.
On the 3-tier cake stand, were homemade cakes, square scones (yum!), platters of iced macaroons including strawberries and raspberries on top and doughnuts as well as spread jam and a light layer of chocolate sprinkles. My mouth watered as spotted a plate of neatly stacked sandwiched with jam spread across the inside and a square piece of salami curved gently around the corners.
In a red, checkered large tablecloth held assortments of different drinks. There were bottles of white and red wine, a jar of sweet-smelling cocktail juice and a tall, thin bottle of gin.
There was four, empty China teacups sitting on a side of it too. They were decorated in a shade of deep blue and had beautiful leaves that twirled and danced across the cup. On another side of the tablecloth was a China teapot. It matched the cups but had a different shade of blue - a sky azure colour - which I assumed held tea.
I couldn’t wait to start trying them!
“Let us eat.” spoke Elizabeth II, as if on cue, with a tight-lipped smile.
I nodded and picked a ceramic plate from a neat stack of them and placed it in front of me. I took a sandwich; a cup with the saucer; two scones; four macaroons; a slice of cake - Battenburg cake. On the contrary, the queen took a sandwich with bacon that I hadn’t noticed before and a cupcake (that was all!) and began to eat.
But how she ate! Spooning small crumbs of cupcake into her mouth, she made sure it didn’t touch her lips. I watched incredulously, forgetting it was the Queen I was gawking at rudely. It was not only until she lifted her head was it that I dropped my head, cheeks flushed hot with embarrassment.
I graciously drew a spoon and poured some tea into my cup from offering waiters and started to munch on my tea time meal. It was a delightful and rich taste! The exquisite macaroons had flavours of different fruits in addition to the fresh, softly ripe berries on top. The cheesy scones had been fabulous too: its smooth, creamy mixture flaking slightly off my tongue.
Soon, I had swallowed most of the food on my plate. I took another cup - a minty green goblet, as clear as glass - and poured some cocktail juice in it. Furthermore, I began stirring in a tea bag from a glass jar. I gulped the two drinks down and grinned.
That was the best tea meal I’d ever had!
Winner: Maryam Ahmed
Aged 18, from Birmingham.
Modern Tea Party
Handfuls of dairy milk and Bombay mix in old biscuit tins,
And sickly sweet vimto in plastic cups,
And an assortment of quality street saved for after dinner,
For the children, obsessed with Teletubbies and already forgetting their mother tongue.
Sticky toffee pudding with sweet, sweet pistachio kulfi,
And greasy battered sausages in tender rotis,
And fried tilapia and spiced chips,
For the busy medical student, pressured by their parents relentlessly.
A plateful of delicate okra fries, with HP sauce on the side,
And Scotch eggs spiced with turmeric and my grandmother’s Indian spice mix,
And all-butter scones with a thick layer of mango chutney, topped with lychee,
For the second generation children, stuck between Janus' doorway.
Succinctly layered trifle with elderberries and garden strawberries,
And malty yet ‘nutritionally delicious’ Ovaltine,
And a sneaky slice of jam roly-poly with cardamom custard,
For the old-timers, reminiscent of their childhood Indian summers.
Overly diluted Robinsons for the little ‘uns,
And Strongly steeped Assam tea for the gentlemen
And an even stronger spicy chai,
For the ladies, in their sarees and inherited sapphire rings.
Runner Up: Isabel Wen
Aged 15, from Sevenoaks.
Fit for a Queen
The feeding of the Ant Queen is quite the sight. She lounges in her chamber and draws heat from the earth and her handmaidens’ bodies, who make their love known with their tender care. Every one of the nest’s tunnels, crevices and small nooks thrum with the beat of thousands of tiny footsteps, as the brood scurries to serve her. The winged ants march to and fro before the entrance to her chamber, the thin threads of sunlight caught and thrown within their wings, the crystals of her crown. Now and then she’ll make her appreciation known, and the dance continues ever stronger. As the revelry tosses lazy sun-sparks against the earth, her feast begins.
Across the backs and between the pincers of her loyal workers, delicacies are held. Crumbs of bread from picnics down the fields, sun-ripened berries, visibly juicy - all held proudly upon the backs of her family. Most of it is carried to the rest of the nest to feed her young larvae, but many choice pieces are directed towards her chamber. Perhaps they’ll bring her some pollen, mildly sweet and brought clasped within clumps of soft petals. Its scent carries throughout the chamber and the Queen clicks her pincers in anticipation. She knows the delicacy well - heady and decadent aromas from warm days growing in the sun, its taste tinted with the floral notes of its flower. Pollen from daisies is slightly bitter, with a slight sharpness which often makes her incapable of eating more than a few bites. But the pollen of cherry blossoms, she simply won’t be able to get enough of, gorging herself on mouthfuls of rose-like fruitiness that sate her cravings.
On the back of one of her daughters, she notices the green surface of a seed - one of her particular favourites. Packed with energy she needs to keep the colony thriving and growing, from the life compressed within it which will never get to grow. Earthy and nutty with a slight creaminess, it never quite falls out of her favour, a welcome contrast to her usual diet of sweetness. And it means her brood will feed well for the coming days. Seeds come in numbers and her daughters never fail to carry. Her satisfaction and mood lightens to match the flickers of sunlight on the wings outside, and the effect echoes through the colony, less frantic in its urges to please.
And of course, she would not be their Queen without her love for honey. She simply must have it, and today she is not disappointed. Carried in the stomachs of her worker ants, honey lies, rich and enticingly golden. The workers teeter up to her to unload the food at her feet and she falls upon it ravenously. Aside from sweetness, its warmth fills her, as if sunlight has been woven through the flowers from where it came, delicately preserved by the bees in their golden hive. As the Queen savours the golden nectar, freshly harvested from the honeycomb and soothing to her palate, her nest seems to hum with her contentment. A delicacy that has never dissatisfied her yet. Her appetite satiated, she leans back, pleased, and allows her brood to feed on the rest. They have served her well. A feast fit for their Queen.