SESAME seeds . . . chicken . . . flour . . . eggs . . . mince . . . potatoes . . . Some 20 aspiring young chefs from Kings College in Jeffreys Bay donned their school uniforms for an apron and pots and pans - ready to slice and dice their way to culinary glory at the school’s recent sizzling hot Masterchef competition.Apart from one learner, the majority have only been cooking since the beginning of the year - let alone making a meal from scratch under pressure and within a specific time limit.Contestants were required to prepare a mouth-watering meal of their choice for the first elimination rounds - all given the same main ingredient to cook with.The top nine chefs, determined through a blind-tasting test, then had to produce a range of fantastic dishes, while the top five finalists had to coo mince dishes using the skills they learned at school - inclu-ding mince stew and mince with a mayonnaise dressing.Some even cooked their own flat bread.The final three contestants were given a mystery dish - containing chicken wings, sesame seeds and coriander - to concoct in the final round.The challenge was not new to them, as they had made sticky chicken wings with sesame seeds in their home economics class earlier the year.No recipe was supplied and an open pantry was at their disposal for all three rounds. Overall winner One dish stood out from the field - Tséama Morolong’s simple, yet delicious, mince stew with egg and a delicious sauce. The winner was chosen by a panel of independent judges that scored each chef according to set criteria: appearance, texture, consistency, tenderness, flavour, temperature and cleanliness of their work station.“The creativity these learners have shown is awesome,” says home economics and hospitality teacher Catherine Calitz. “It’s amazing how professional, how organised and how calm they are. Even when the electricity tripped.“’It was so rewarding to see the passion and skill on display - they took in absolutely everything they were shown.“The finished products were delicious and the standard amazing.”Proud Kings College Principal Soria Swart, says, ““Although the idea of the Masterchef competition was to demonstrate what a career in catering and hospitality could offer, values and skills taught at school - including social, life and organisational skills - were also at the forefront.“Their tables were clean and neat throughout the competition, they interacted with their fellow contestants, judges and audience members and passed the test of time and stress management with flying colours - all while cooking a winning dish.“It is these principles and values that will guide and motivate them in life.”Next year, the competition will be an inter-schools event. Vocational Training But where did they learn to cook like professionals? At the school’s newly established hands-on Vocational Training (VT) programme - a first for primary schools in South Africa, if not the world.The programme consists of three legs: home economics (cooking), needlework and technical work.“We introduced the VT programme at the beginning of the year to accommodate and uplift learners who are not performing academically,” says Kings College Principal Soria Swart.“But this does not mean they do not have immense potential. Their skills just lie elsewhere - more on the practical side.“Take for example Morolong who won the Masterchef competition. Had he been left in the main acade-mic stream, we would have lost him.“This once depressed and underperforming learner, who struggles academically, is now a proud, loyal and devoted learner - all thanks to the VT programme, especially home economics.”’ According to her, the VT programme not only boosts learners’ self-worth and confidence, but also equips them with valuable skills to become successful entrepreneurs - whether it is in the hospitality or restaurant industry, or carpentry and fashion. “At Kings College we strive to produce learners who are valuable assets to the world - if not the planet,” says Swart.