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YOUTH has had its days at the Savoy: in two recent cook-offs, a 24-year-old saucier came up on the rails to beat the fancied runners in the Prix Taittinger and 15-year-old Katie Bishop, from Hythe in Kent, beat 30,000 others to win the Sainsbury's FutureCooks competition.

FutureCooks is open to youngsters aged between 9 and 15. The eight finalists had to prepare two courses for their favourite personality from the food world in front of a panel of judges which included Sophie Grigson and Anton Edelmann of the Savoy. Their recipes are reproduced in The FutureCooks Recipe Book (pounds 1.75 from Sainsbury's). Katie Bishop took the top prize of a trip to Disneyland for her scallops in sun-dried tomato sauce followed by sweet carrot tartlets, which she dedicated to food writer Thane Prince of the Daily Telegraph.

The Prix Taittinger is an international competition for chefs at the top of their profession. The eight UK semi-finalists included names that will be familiar to Gastropod's regular readers: Bruno Loubet of the Four Seasons, Roger Narbett of the Dorchester and John Williams of Claridge's. But the heavyweight competitors were eclipsed by Jeremy Cooper from Huddersfield, who works at Le Souffle restaurant at the Inter-Continental Hotel, Hyde Park Corner. He won a very big bottle of champagne and the kudos of representing Britain in the final, in Paris in December.

THE Oxfam Vegetarian Cookbook (Vermilion, pounds 8.99) has been compiled by Rose Elliot, Britain's most prolific vegetarian cookery writer, to mark the 50th anniversary of the charity. It includes contributions from all sorts of celebrities, including Chris Bonington, the mountaineer (root vegetable crumble), Ian McCaskill, the weather forecaster (chilli), and Jeremy Irons, the actor (champ, a mashed potato dish). If you are what you eat, then Maureen Lipman, the comic actress, is broccoli supreme, Judi Dench is both a leading lady and cheesy cauliflower, and Barbara Cartland doubles as a romantic novelist and raspberry and honey ice-cream.

SHOULD you visit any one of more than 40 top London restaurants over the coming fortnight and find an envelope on your table with a printed request that you fill it with cash, do not be alarmed. This is not some ruse by the waiting staff to extort more money, but a scheme called the Cover Charge Appeal which aims to raise funds to support the work of Save The Children in Somalia. It is the brainchild of Charles Fontaine, chef/proprietor of the Quality Chop House in Farringdon Road, EC1, and the restaurateurs are hoping to raise pounds 75,000 from their well-fed customers to help save victims of the war in Somalia.

ODDBINS has long been renowned as the least snooty and most accessible of wine stores, but their latest shop is designed to appeal exclusively to the connoisseur. Oddbins Fine Wine Store is a self-contained, air-conditioned shop within the shop at 41a Farringdon Street, beneath Holborn Viaduct in London, which will open in the first week of November. It will offer an ever-changing array of obscure vintages (eg: 1983 Chateau Palmer), idiosyncratic imports (eg: six vintages of the Australian Wolf Blass Black Label) and astounding bargains (eg: 1988 Pinero from Ca del Bosco, an amazing Pinot Noir which usually retails for around pounds 30, at pounds 9.99).

THE centrepiece of the BBC Good Food Cooking and Kitchen Show at the Birmingham National Exhibition Centre from 12-15 November will be the British Gas Celebrity Theatre, where cookery stars of the small screen will perform. The list of crowd-pullers includes Ken Hom (appearing Thursday), Prue Leith (Saturday) and Gary Rhodes (Sunday). Advance tickets cost pounds 5.50 and are bookable by calling 021-780 4133, but the Gastropod has half a dozen to give away to the first six people who can tell us the title of the first televised cookery programme in Britain.

Among the show's other attractions will be the International Cheese Competition. Winners of our competition will also receive baskets of the winning cheeses, plus return rail travel to Birmingham. Address your answers to the Gastropod, Weekend Features, the Independent, 40 City Road, London EC1Y 2DB.

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