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Yuliia targeting WorldSkills 2026 in Shanghai

Coleg Llandrillo student Yuliia Batrak will have the chance to work in top-class venues such as The Ritz and Gleneagles as part of her training for the global competition

Yuliia Batrak is targeting the 2026 WorldSkills finals in Shanghai following her success this year.

The Coleg Llandrillo student ended 2023 on a high, winning gold in the Restaurant Service category at last month’s WorldSkills UK finals in Manchester.

Yuliia will now go into the UK squad to train for the global finals in China, and will have the chance to gain work experience at top-class venues such as The Ritz in London and Gleneagles Resort in Scotland.

Out of a squad of six, only one will eventually be selected to represent the UK in Shanghai.

But the experience could prove invaluable as Yuliia strives towards her ambition of one day opening a Ukrainian restaurant in Britain.

Speaking about her WorldSkills win, the 17-year-old said: “I’m so proud of myself. I felt loads of pressure from judges and from all the work I’ve put in. I put so much practice in because I felt I might not have another chance to win, and everyone was really helpful and supportive.

“It was really stressful having the judges watching you - very different to when you do it in college! But it was definitely worth it. It was very emotional and will open doors for me now.”

To win gold Yuliia had to showcase various skills, including wine identification, cocktail making, speciality coffee making, a Steak Diane flambé, Crêpes Suzette flambé, and afternoon tea service with real guests.

Her success followed her two gold medals at the Welsh International Culinary Competition in February, when she scored a maximum 100 points in each competition - the first time this had been done in the 25-year history of the competition.

Yuliia thanked her lecturers for their support in the competitions - particularly Glenydd Hughes, her tutor from the last academic year, and Mike Garner, who trained her for the WorldSkills finals.

“We counted at least 192 hours of practice just for this competition,” said Yuliia. “I’m really glad college gives opportunities like this for young people to improve their skills and employability. It will really help with my CV, and it’s a great opportunity.”

Yuliia arrived in the UK with her mum and sister last year, after they had to leave their home in Kyiv following the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Now living in Colwyn Bay, she is studying Level 2 Professional Cookery at Coleg Llandrillo’s Rhos-on-Sea campus, having completed her Level 1 Food & Beverage Service in the summer.

Yuliia’s dream is to one day run a Michelin-starred restaurant, and she is keen to showcase Ukrainian cuisine to the rest of the world.

“Before I moved to the United Kingdom I loved to cook a lot,” she said. “Then I came to the UK and I saw the opportunity to go to this college, because everyone was saying how great the hospitality and catering course is.

“Now it’s my second home. Here you are finding so much more friends and so much more support and you are going here with a smile.

“I want to open my own restaurant in the future and to get a Michelin star. I want to open a Ukrainian cuisine restaurant and I want to show the United Kingdom how great we are at cooking and how beautiful our cuisine is.”

  • Watch our interview with Yuliia on YouTube.

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