Young Food Writer of the Year Competition 2021 – Winners Announced

The Guild of Food Writers and The Week Junior are delighted to announce the winners of the Guild’s Young Food Writer of the Year competition. This is the third year that the Guild has partnered with The Week Junior and Young Food Writer has gone from strength to strength.

Young and budding food writers were tasked with writing a piece under the theme ‘Food Discovery’ for a chance to win the competition. Entrants were split into three age categories (10 and under, 11 to 14, and 15 to 18) and were encouraged to capture one of their favourite food discoveries on the page.


Winners and Runners-up:

10 years old and under

Winner: Charlotte Middleton, aged 10 from Shropshire

Marmite & Marmalade: The judges loved Charlotte’s clever phrases and felt her piece was full of humour. They felt it was a fantastically written story that was incredibly descriptive and was well structured. They even felt that Marmite would be well advised to get Charlotte on board as one of their copywriters!



Runner-up: Arya Limbani, aged 5 from London

Sweetcorn: Hot on the heels of the winner, Arya’s piece filled the judges with joy. The five-year-old managed to create a real sense of discovery with her charming story.


11 to 14 years old

Winner: Maahi Patel, aged 14 from Shropshire

The Girl Who Was Never Hungry: The judges were bowled over by Maahi’s development of narrative and they loved the journey she took to find her love of food, sparked by the discovery of paneer. One judge in particular commented on how Maahi really made them feel they were on the journey with her.



Runner-up: Amy McCarthy, aged 12 from Buckinghamshire

Berries: A well-crafted piece of writing with some beautifully devised description. The judges felt Amy had written a lovely story that ‘incorporated nature, kindness, and food all in one story.’


15 to 18 years old

Winner: Anna Kaporkina, aged 15 from Surrey

Paella: The judges loved Anna’s original and sophisticated piece of writing. They felt the story was very touching and emotive. In particular, they loved the connections made between food, emotion and power.


Runner-up: Jasmine Fields-Hutchinson, aged 15 from London

I Don’t Like Chocolate: The tone and humour of Jasmine’s story was thoroughly enjoyed by the judges. They felt it had a strong thread and they especially loved the description of the chef. A lovely piece of writing that was all tied up with a great ending.


To read the winning and highly commended entries please click more at the bottom.


Thanks go to our panel of judges (bestselling cook book author, celebrity MasterChef winner, actress and presenter Lisa FaulknerKaren Barnes, editorial director of award-winning delicious. magazine; award-winning documentary maker, TV presenter and author Stefan Gates; food editor of the Life & Style and Homes portfolios at Future and Guild Vice-Chair Samuel Goldsmith; TV producer, cookery book writer and Guild member Kalpna WoolfSherry Ashworth, award-winning author of children’s and young adult literature; cook, food writer, cookery teacher and Guild member Lorna WingFelicity Capon, editor of The Week Junior magazine; and Ben Isaacs, Features Editor of The Week Junior magazine); and to The Week Junior for helping the Guild focus young people on really engaging with food and thinking about how they write about it. 



From left to right: Karen Barnes, Sherry Ashworth and Felicity Capon

From left to right: Lisa Faulkner, Stefan Gates and Samuel Goldsmith

From left to right: Ben Isaacs, Lorna Wing and Kalpna Woolf


The Competition

The Young Food Writer of the Year competition (formerly Write It) was established in 2008. It is the only national food writing competition in the UK for children. It has seen prestigious names from the Guild’s membership judge entries from more than 1,350 aspiring food writers.


About The Week Junior

The Week Junior is an award-winning magazine which aims to make sense of the world for young people. Since its inception in 2015 it has grown from strength-to-strength to become a market leader in the UK, offering a blend of thoughtful, inspiring and trustworthy news and current affairs stories which inform, empower and entertain children up and down the country every week.


To read the winning and highly commended entries please click more below.



Full Entries of the Winners and Runners-up:

10 years old and under

Winner: Charlotte Middleton, aged 10 from Shropshire


Marmite & Marmalade

‘That’s disgusting! Darers go first!’

Fear paralysed me with the thought of eating repellent marmite and marmalade together! What had I done!

As I smeared the butter onto the crunchy home baked toast, I imagined how terrible this was going to taste. Slowly, I reached for the slightly sticky marmite jar and slowly unscrewed the lid. I stared down at the murky brown muck and the fierce unwanted smell filled my nostrils as I nervously placed my knife into the gooey liquid. Regretfully I spread the monstrous marmite onto the delicious bread. My sister watched and a gleeful grin spread across her face. I looked at her in disgust as I opened the sweet-smelling marmalade. I dived my knife in, hoping that it would drown the taste of the marmite and spread it thickly upon the taste of terror. With my heart pounding, I reached for the loathsome combination, my fingers shaking with fear and annoyance as I picked up the ruined toast and moved it towards my mouth. I imagined how awful this breakfast was going to be.

‘It’s now or never,’ I thought as I bit into the terrible toast and started to chew.

My taste buds tingled.

I felt a smile creep upon my face as the taste lifted my soul.

My heart fluttered.

This is delicious I thought.

Sweet, salty, buttery, crunchy – heavenly!

This was a dare I didn’t mind doing, and I was tempted to keep the secret to myself.


10 years old and under

Runner-up: Arya Limbani, aged 5 from London



This year my Grandma sent me some corn seeds to grow in my garden. I planted them. Now they are growing very tall. I started thinking about what I can make with my corn. It is my favret food. I like how it tastes. I love to eat it in lots of different ways. I like it warm with my chips on Fridays with a little bit of salt. It tastes yummy in my Mexican bean tacos. I found out something very intresting about my tacos, they are made from corn flour! My Grandma also uses the same corn flour to make helthey rotis for my Grandpa. I love helping her roll the rotis into a circle shape and eating them hot with ghee and my faveret curry. Guess what this is? SWEETCORN Curry!

I was helping my Mummy and Daddy make pizza on Saturday. I chose my best toppings which are olives and sweetcorn. After eating pizza sometimes I eat a snack with my brother called popcorn. I think it is cool that popcorn is made from little dry corn and I love watching it go POP POP POP in the saucepan. I was reading my favret book called Cocky Cockrel a week ago. I learnt that even hens like corn for breakfast!

Now my corn is as tall as my arm. It is near my fairy garden and I can’t wait until it can grow taller then me and I can pick my corn on the cob.


11 to 14 years old

Winner: Maahi Patel, aged 14 from Shropshire


The Girl Who Was Never Hungry

Our story begins in the dinner hall at primary school. There’s rows upon rows of empty red seats, until right at the back you see a small girl in a red cardigan staring aimlessly at the high ceiling above her. She’s fiddling with her sandwich, which she’s eaten approximately one-and-a-quarter bites of, as the dinner ladies congregate around her wondering what to do.

She’s been asked some questions. All of them have the same answer. ‘I’m not hungry,’ says the girl.

The truth is, food never excited me much. I loved dairy… well, by that I mean I loved milk. Cheese not so much, especially since everyone said cheese was ‘smelly’- that properly put me off it. Point is, the only thing I liked to eat (well, consume) was yoghurt and milk.

It was nobody’s fault. My mum had tried her hardest and had endured many school meetings along the topic of ‘Maahi’s eating habits.’ I had a food nutritionist and a lot of support. I just didn’t like most food.

There’s always an easy way. My mother could have brought me up on protein shakes if she wanted to, as was told to her, as was an option. But she thought of my future: a teenage version of her daughter out with her friends, watching them eat Subways and Krispy Kreme doughnuts as she sips away on a lacklustre protein drink. No- instead she chose the hard way, the way that would benefit me more.

She tried to make food interesting. It was a big ask. At that point it probably seemed easier to sprout a pair of wings and retire to Mars than get me to finish my school lunch. We tried extra cheese in my sandwich (which obviously didn’t work), cucumber, carrot…(which I actually loathe now, but that’s a different story) all with the same result.

Still I’d be the last one in the dinner hall, the girl who ate barely anything at lunch and something had to change.

Well, here it comes, the brainwave; it was my uncle. Dr Himanshu Patel, my mum’s brother and my mum’s inspiration. He didn’t diagnose me a health problem or give me any medication. There was no surgery on my thorax (oh wait, it’s the food pipe isn’t it?) or any supposedly legendary diet or therapy. Instead I got one of his favourites, paneer.

It’s a fresh Indian cooking cheese and it’s non- fermented or aged. Obviously, the part of it being a ‘cheese’ was carefully omitted, but this really was a saving grace.

I had it by itself to begin with. Fried up with some salt and I thought it tasted great. Then we tried curries too. I was getting veggies in my system too and we couldn’t be happier. In fact, paneer’s inspired me to cook and it’s still my favourite curry today! I’ve tried a lot of different recipes with it.

So, I suppose my food discovery was actually the love of food in the first place!


11 to 14 years old

Runner-up: Amy McCarthy, aged 12 from Buckinghamshire



I ran through the forest, feeling the damp grass underneath my feet as I pushed aside leaves and branches. The basket my mother had given to me to collect berries in landed with a thump on the ground. Despite not knowing where I was going, I picked the woven basket up and arrived at the edge of the river. Luckily, my canoe was still behind the fallen tree where I had left it. Walking down to the riverbank, I hopped into the canoe. Although it was small, it was still big enough to carry my basket, even when it was full of food. I ran my hands along the carved, wavy pattern bordering the edge of the canoe, letting the water drift me down the winding river. Above me, a majestic eagle glided over the river, swooping down towards me. It skimmed one of its wings on the water causing me to duck as water sprayed into the air. Wind threaded through my long hair. The eagle made a piercing screech before disappearing into the dense canopy on the left of me. Reaching into the water, I dipped my hand in and stopped paddling, putting my oar down. The river narrowed as the water grew more violent and choppy. Finally, the canoe came to a stop by the side of the river. I grabbed my basket and jumped off, making sure to tie the floating canoe to the nearest overhanging tree.

An unfamiliar feeling rose in my stomach. I spun around to find that I was on the wrong side of the river! I had never been on this side of the river to collect berries. There was nothing else I could do, so I walked into the forest. As I pushed aside branches, I gasped, spotting what the trees had revealed. A beautiful, luscious valley curved down to the water, whilst bees and butterflies landed on the abundance of berries and shiny fruit. How had I never discovered this place before?! I ran over to the bushes, scooping up as many berries as my basket could carry. I felt so overwhelmed by the amount of food. Suddenly, a crashing sound silenced the animals. Looking down, I the eagle crashed by my feet. Its wings were crumpled, and its feathers were tattered, it looked at me as I knelt down beside it and grabbed a handful of berries. I fed the berries to the eagle, coming back every day to heal it. On the third day, I cupped my hands full of water and let it drink. Every day the eagle grew stronger. Every day I tried to tell my mum about the valley, but I couldn’t say a word. After a while, the eagle was on its feet, eating fish from the river and bringing apples to me in its beak. My family were fed, the eagle was healed and the food from the valley kept a secret. I smiled; one day I’d show the world this discovery.


15 to 18 years old

Winner: Anna Kapokrina, aged 15 from Surrey



‘Paella is the eternal meal of single fathers in Spain,’ says old Jimena. Her hair is pulled into a long gray braid, the rings on her fingers clatter against her nearly empty glass of sherry. ‘When a family was left without a mother, be it death, divorse or perhaps like my mother when she left to work in France and never returned … Then the children remained with their father.’ She chuckled dryly. ‘He tried his best,’ J continued’ Cooked the paella from everything that we had: leftover salmon,burnt chicken, vegetables, smoked sausages, cod, grains, shrimp, shellfish. Simple pasta with tomato sauce and paella - that's all the food he could make. Then my stepmother appeared in the house with her children,with her smell of anise and those trashy dresses.’ Through the way the old lady's voice slightly rose and her nose twitched, I could tell the topic cut her deep. She told me all about her childhood after the arrival of her new family members.The stepmother started her own rules. Suddenly the paella on her plate was only rice , whilst the pieces of oily fish and shrimp went to the loud mouthed children of her stepmother.Her father became different,he started to appear more often with a glass of aguardiente, a vicious Spanish vodka tha burned in his throat at a terrible 80 degrees. The more the fiery liquid scorched his tongue the heavier it scorched Jimenas heart ‘So don't ask me for a paella recipe, I don't like it! ‘ -Jimena waves her hands. Perhaps the key ingredient to paella is sorrow.


15 to 18 years old

Runner-up: Jasmine Fields-Hutchinson, aged 15 from London


I Don’t Like Chocolate

I don’t like chocolate.

What? That can’t be right you think.

I don’t like it,

Oh, now she's going to say that she actually loves chocolate.

I hate it.

Please don't be alarmed, I've always been a fussy eater.

This fact was first brought to my attention when five year old me first tried blueberry ice cream.


‘Sweetie, don't spit out your food like that, it isn't polite.’

‘Now Dear, you know she can't help it, she is a Fussy Eater after all.’

‘What?’ I asked curiously.

The trouble started when I ate my first bite of real food. Apparently teensy toddler me wasn't fond of chocolate flavoured baby food and after being splattered with brown purée, my parents tried again, this time with normal flavours. But I refused to open my mouth for any of the aeroplane morsels to enter and they soon grew fretful.

If they knew anything about childcare it was that children have to eat.

And eat, I would not.

So scrambling about, trying to find how they could possibly save their daughter from starvation, they found pickypeoplesparents.hungry.yum which gave them advice about the curse of Fussy Eating. They did exactly what the website said; they only fed me unhealthy food. Lemonade and doughnuts and marshmallows and strawberry milkshakes and chips, the food that fussy eaters like, according to Internet.

I stick to my picky foods and my parents are happy that they have recognised my condition correctly because I eat my meals without fuss, But of course, there is one thing which occasionally brings them doubt about their diagnosis, something rarely the case for Fussy Eaters; I don’t like chocolate.

Now, I agree that it seems unlikely that my Mum would send me to a cookery school at a fancy kitchen, but, she has. It was an idea she had after reading an article about my disorder, which suggested the previously unconsidered option of curing my fussiness. So now away to culinary classes she has sent me, and they are to be at the new Grenade au Chocolat restaurant

The course starts today.

I have arrived early and Chef is giving me a special introduction because I have never prepared food before. The shiny confidence of the steel kitchen is making me very queasy.

‘Many people nowadays like to waste their money on gadgets to do all their cooking for them because they are lazy pigs,’ Chef says, ‘but in a real kitchen we use few tools and rely on our hands and skills for the rest. I would like to show you how to chop properly.’

She holds a giant shiny knife with a wooden handle and, placing her left fingertips on the top of the blade, begins to slice a handful of pecans.

‘Easy,’ she says, ‘now you.’

I sheepishly begin to cut the nuts, and I am happy to see her smiling when I’m finished.

‘Good, you like pecans?’

I tell her that I’ve only eaten salted peanuts and she looks disgusted.

‘Try one.’

I pick up a small piece of nut and nibble shyly.

I can’t quite taste it.

I pick up another piece and munch it.

It tastes Delicious!!

Sweet and rich, but not in a hollow way like chocolate. Crumbly, but slightly chewy, and pleasantly oily, not greasy and fried.

I tell her that I’ve never eaten anything like this before and, to my alarm, she begins rushing about, shovelling morsels into my mouth and telling me how she can’t believe I’ve never eaten ‘real’ food before.

And I agree, what I’ve eaten tastes fake.

I’ve never liked eating, it’s always been a chore, swallowing all that blandness, but this is fantastic!

A few other children arrive, and the class begins.

I am paired with a girl called Celia, she’s very chatty and I have trouble getting her to concentrate on the recipe. By the end of the day we stand in front of Chef with a plate of eclairs and stomachs full of ingredients.

‘Messy piping, but the technique is not bad,’ Chef says looking at the chocolate topped choux wiggles.

‘Go on!’ Celia says to me after Chef is gone, ‘try one!’ I am about to explain that I don’t like chocolate, but I’m too tired to bother so I open my gob and shove the whole thing in.

Cream squirts from my lips as I chew slowly.

I contemplate the flavour for a moment.

And guess what.

I still don’t like chocolate.