Catering Student Finalists Follow in Famous Footsteps

Published: Tuesday 3 March 2015

 A student catering team from Blackpool and The Fylde College (B&FC) has followed in the famous footsteps of James Martin and Jamie Oliver, reaching the grand final of a prestigious national catering competition. Elizabeth Watson, Tom Greenwood and Suteerak Mueaybut have impressed Michelin-starred chefs and industry leaders during the Nestle Professional Toque d’Or competition to earn themselves a place in the top six.

The Nestlé Professional Toque d’Or competition carries the most enviable reputation for inspiring and challenging catering students up and down the country. The team from B&FC were initially selected from over 120 entries from all over the UK to qualify for the regional heats, after successfully completing a written test themed around sustainability.

The trio were then put through their paces during the regional heat at Manchester College. After receiving a masterclass from Rob Kennedy, Craft Guild of Chefs and Alessandro Cristiano, Exec Chef at Loch Fyne, they had just three hours to recreate a previously unseen three-course menu, testing their technical, presentation and front of house skills.

Steven Alexander, programme leader for Professional Cookery at level 3 and also the Head Chef for Level 6 at the College, has mentored the students through the competition. He said: “The team performed exceptionally well in the regional heat. The chefs did a fantastic job of recreating the seafood fregola, cannon of lamb and crème brulee and put to use the skills they have learned at B&FC and while working in the industry. Tom, our front of house student, explained each of the dishes to judges while serving them and this true fine dining experience helped to set us apart from other teams.”

Judges announced a rolling top ten after the first week of heats and from then it was a nail-biting wait for B&FC to see if they could secure one of the top six spots to compete in the final.

Joanne Kershaw, Head of School for Hospitality, Tourism and Sport believes recent improvements at the College, including the introduction of the Level 6 restaurant and working with leading local chefs, have further increased standards and motivated the students to succeed.

She said: “We have been named in the final with colleges which are held in the highest esteem in the industry and I believe being in such company is a reflection of where our students are at now. We are competing at the very top level and our students are benefitting from direct contact with the finest chefs in the country. This exposure to the best in the industry is incomparable preparation for their future careers and the perfect springboard to a successful career.”

Students are now busy preparing for the three-day final, which will involve another cooking challenge, will see them gain work experience with a large catering company (previous tasks have included cooking for Beyoncé and her team at the O2 Arena) and attend a gala dinner and masterclass at The Dorchester. The winning team will carry out a placement with Anton Mosimann, who was chosen to cook for guests at the evening reception of Prince William and Catherine Middleton’s wedding.

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