Middlesbrough College student Jean named the UK’s rising ‘Wokstar’ in new culinary competition

23 June 2022

Middlesbrough College student Jean Claudine Villanueva has dazzled the judges in a new Chinese cooking competition for catering students. The BA (Hons) Culinary Arts Management student impressed with her dishes and was named the overall ‘Wokstar’.  

The Wokstar 2022 competition was created to promote skills in Chinese culinary arts and is supported by the Lu Ban Foundation, the Chinese Department for Education and Tianjin School of Cuisine. The final of the competition took place at the award-winning Lu Ban Restaurant in Liverpool on Friday 17th June 2022.  

Six College’s took part in the national competition and students were asked to serve up a Chinese hot dish, cold dish and dessert. Jean wowed the judges with her asparagus and quail salad starter, smoked chicken and sweetcorn main and stem ginger panna cotta with spiced plum desert. She took home the trophy and the £3,000 prize money!  

Jean said: “I’m over the moon! I didn’t expect to win but I’m delighted that I did! I really enjoyed the competition; it was scary at first to be cooking for influential people in the industry, but they put us at ease and made us all feel comfortable. The competition was so much fun! Lots of preparation went into creating the dishes and I’m thrilled that the hard work paid off! 

“The culinary courses at Middlesbrough College are outstanding. My tutors are supportive and encourage me to be creative. There’s also so many opportunities to take part in culinary competitions which is fantastic as it allows us to hone our skills and create new dishes. 

“I studied the Level 3 programme at the College and have progressed to degree level. I’m planning to study my master's in Hospitality and Tourism Management with Middlesbrough College too! It’s brilliant that the College offers progression routes right through to Level 7.  

“After I’ve completed my education, I’m hoping to progress to become a food critic. I know that the skills, knowledge and opportunities that Middlesbrough College are providing me with will help me to achieve this goal.”  

Jean’s classmates also took part in the competition and took home awards. Listi Hamilton won the award for Best Cold Dish and Kate Dobson took home the prize for Best Hot Dish and Best Desert.  

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