Caterers Cook up a Storm in Series of Competitions

A group of bold Catering students have returned to the College from the annual Heat Culinary Challenges Competition, taking an outstanding 2nd place overall.

The competition was the third they had taken part in during March, bringing their demanding season of cooking challenges to an end. During this marathon month they learnt some incredible skills to take into their careers and worked with some of the best chefs in the business.

To celebrate the team’s successes during their busy month, students and staff gathered in the College’s Gallery Restaurant to be awarded their myriad of certificates and medals by College Principal, Virginia Barrett.

Mrs Barrett is a strong supporter of students experiencing their subjects beyond the classroom, saying:

“As a college we do extremely well at going out and standing out, and our Catering Team do this exceptionally. Well done to all involved and keep up the good work.”

The students travelled by boat to Jersey, in the Channel Islands, with their expert lecturers to guide them through the challenge of cooking a four-course dinner, under the watchful eyes of top chefs Paul Gayler MBE, Andrew Bennett MBE, Stephen Scuffell and Henry Brosi.

Having prepared for months, the students cooked their dinner of curried cauliflower volute and curry oil, pan fried pea cakes served with seared black bream fillet, and seared beef roulade stuffed with a pea and cauliflower purée. Dessert was a pear, parsnip and ginger cake. Their mouth-watering masterpiece was clearly a hit with the judges, earning the team a fantastic 2nd place.

The team’s front of house students also wowed the judges with their service on the restaurant floor, gaining the top prize for Excellence in Service.

Student Emily was thrilled with the result, commenting:

“I feel so much more confident it’s allowed me to prove to myself that I can do it and that I am good enough to be in the industry. The lecturers were amazing on the trip – they didn’t put pressure on us to win or to get everything perfect, they helped us when we needed it. It was just an amazing experience all round and wouldn’t change anything about the trip we had – apart from the boat journey, which took 11 hours!”

Alongside the competition, the students also explored the island and made trips to see local produce at its source. After visiting local farms and speaking to local producers. Student Jonathan felt like he learned more than just how to compete. He said:

“The trip taught me so many different lessons, from produce all the way to working in new environments and adapting to your surroundings, it was a life changing opportunity. The experience the lecturers have given me is amazing and I am very grateful, it has been one of the best weeks of my life.”

Earlier in the month, Catering students tackled the Salon Culinaire Competition, held during the annual Hotelympia Expo at London’s ExCeL Centre.

The students brought home four golds and one silver in chicken cuts for sauté; two golds and one silver in fish cuts; and two bronzes for vegetable cuts.

Catering Lecturer Sean Patterson was elated with the result. He said:

“The students have worked so hard with extra training sessions alongside normal college and work commitments. I am so proud of their achievement.”

Catering students and staff also competed at Toque d’Or, Westminster College. This required them to watch a masterclass for an hour, then replicate the masterclass for paying customers within an hour time limit. They had to produce four courses and coffee to 10 customers including the table layup – with top London chefs judging throughout the day.

Lecturer Sean Patterson was impressed with the students commitment, having “battled their way through the ‘beast from the east’ to London they then had a fully packed day competing in an extremely tackling competition. The level of professionalism the students demonstrated was outstanding. We look forward to the results to see if we have made the final.”

Students currently in Year 11 and considering a career in Catering still have time to follow in the Farnborough team’s footsteps, by making an application via the College website for this September. View our Catering courses to find out more and to apply.

Event photos courtesy Heat Culinary Colleges Competition