Yuliia Batrak, who lives with her mum Liudmyla and seven-year-old sister Alona, fled their home in Kyiv because of the Russian invasion of their country a year ago and have made a temporary home in Colwyn Bay for the past nine months.
Enrolling on a Level 1 Food & Beverage Service course at Coleg Llandrillo, Yuliia was encouraged by her tutor, Glenydd Hughes, to enter the WICC and the decision proved a masterstroke. Yuliia won gold medals after not dropping a single point in the knife skills for fruit & vegetables and soup making classes.
To top off her success, she also received the overall award at the WICC awards dinner for best live open class competitor.
Arwyn Watkins OBE, President of the Culinary Association of Wales, said: “In all the years that I have been involved in the industry, I have never known a competitor to compete in skills classes and not drop a point.”
A delighted Yuliia said: “I am so excited because I didn’t think I would win this award. When I entered these competitions, I had to get the gold medals because I had worked so hard. I must thank my tutor Glen - he believed in me from the first day I started.”
Yuliia, whose father and brother are still in Kyiv, thanked the people of Wales for welcoming her family.
She said: “Everyone is so welcoming to me and in supporting Ukraine even though it's 1,000 kilometres from the UK,” she added. “People here are so kind.”
Glenydd was thrilled by Yuliia’s success. He said: “I interviewed Yuliia when she arrived here and gave her a chance. She showed great potential from the beginning - staying behind after the class has finished to keep practising.”
Samantha McIlvogue, Assistant Principal of Coleg Llandrillo, said: “We are delighted for Yuliia being awarded two perfect scores, particularly as this has never before been achieved in the 30 year history of WICC competition.”
“These competitions help to develop the skills of our learners and build their confidence, and are testimony to the fantastic training delivered by our staff. We are particularly proud of our learners’ achievements having also won Best College 2023, Best Hygiene Award and Best Commis Chef awards.”