A GLENGORMLEY teenager could be just one small cake away from winning a prestigious scholarship to one of the world’s finest culinary institutions.
Aimee Norton has been shortlisted among the eight finalists for a scholarship at the world renowned Le Cordon Bleu.
The cookery school, which has campuses across the world, has produced some of the world’s finest and most successful chefs.
And this week Aimee will travel to the cookery school’s new UK headquarters in Bloomsbury Square, London, for the final stage of the scholarship competition.
If the 17-year-old is successful, as well as being awarded a full year’s scholarship at the school with accommodation - a grant valued at over £30,000 - she will also receive an apprenticeship at double Michelin-starred chef Tom Aikens’ restaurant.
The scholarship has been offered to mark the opening of the new campus and is the first time the school has awarded such an opportunity in its 115 year history.
“I cannot believe I have come this far,” said Aimee, “to win the competition would be amazing, I could not imagine it.”
It has been an amazing journey to the final for Aimee.
With a B grade in GCSE Home Economics and little cooking experience she never expected to get so far.
However, she grabbed the judges’ attention with a poem about her love for cooking which propelled her into the latter stages of the competition, which was open to 16 to 19-year-olds.
She continued: “To enter you had to upload a video and you could watch all those who had already entered to see what you were up against.
“There were people with professional backgrounds, cooking dishes in proper kitchens and I thought I needed something to set my application apart, so I decided on doing a poem about my passion and love for baking.”
Aimee, who is currently studying for her A Levels at Belfast Royal Academy, added: “I have always wanted to do something in catering, particularly in the patisserie side of things.
“When I was young I remember learning from my granny - and my mum has helped along the way.
“When I was researching opportunities I came across the scholarship competition at Le Cordon Bleu and just thought ‘why not?’.”
In preparation for the final Aimee’s school arranged a day’s work experience for her at Deane’s Restaurant in Belfast which once held a coveted Michelin star.
“All along the way my teachers have all been very supportive of me,” said Aimee.
“It was amazing to see the intense nature of working in a professional kitchen.
“In just one day at Deane’s I learnt so much. They showed how you can create something amazing using some very simple techniques.”
For the final on February 7, Aimee will be given a demonstration of a dish and, along with the rest of the competitors, will have to recreate it for the judges.
Aimee went on: “I’m really nervous about what they will do in case it is something I really know nothing about - but it’s exciting as well.
“The fees for the course are huge and then living in London is very expensive but you will be taught by the best - and to be in with a chance of the scholarship would make this a dream come true.
“Whatever happens I will look to do something in cookery after school. I would like to travel and work in various restaurants across the world and one day open up my own patisserie in Belfast.”
Aimee’s parents Michael and Ursula and sister Helen said they were delighted with her achievement and wished her the very best of luck for the competition.
You can view Aimee’s poem, along with the rest of the contestants’ videos at: www.cordonbleu.edu/scholarship