Catering Students Compete in Prestigious Final

Finalists Tom and Pang with celebrity chef James Tanner

Published: Thursday 14 May 2015

Catering for acts at the X-factor live shows, working with the best in the business at The Dorchester hotel in London and rubbing shoulders with celebrity chefs at an awards event was all part of the job for a student catering team from Blackpool and The Fylde College, who reached the Grand Finals of the prestigious Nestle Toque d’Or competition.

Elizabeth Watson, Tom Greenwood and Suteerak Mueaybut were put through their paces at a three-day Masterchef style final in London against five other college teams from all over the UK, which saw them given daily challenges each morning to test their cooking, presentation and teamwork skills to the limit.

The Nestlé Professional Toque d’Or competition carries the most enviable reputation for inspiring and challenging catering students up and down the country and the trio have been impressing Michelin starred chefs and industry leaders since they were initially selected from over 120 entries across the UK to qualify for the regional heats earlier this year.

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: “I was absolutely blown away by how impressive our students have been throughout this competition and particularly in the Grand Final. The standard has been the best ever and all three of them have really shone. They have represented the College at national level and proved that we can compete with the best in the country.”

The competition culminated with a gala dinner at The Dorchester hotel where students were given a tour of the famous kitchens, introduced to Executive Chef Henry Brosi and met with former competition winner and ‘Lorraine’ regular James Tanner, before presenter Mark Duerden-Smith announced the overall winner.

Suteerak, known as Pang, said it was a once in a lifetime opportunity: “I have gained so much experience from doing this competition and I’ve loved being involved. I never thought I would have the chance to work with celebrity chefs, make new friends and learn so much. Having Nestle finalist on my CV will open up doors for me in the future; I already have business cards from two of the top hotel chefs in London. I want to thank Steven [Alexander] for seeing something in me and putting me forward for the competition.”

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 added: “I’d like to congratulate our student finalists on this fantastic achievement. 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 outstanding preparation for their future careers.”

The students return with £1,000 for the College to spend on professional catering equipment and an additional £200 in individual prizes. A replica trophy was also presented the Blackpool and The Fylde College for consistently performing well in the competition and previously winning the title.

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