Jack Reynolds from University College Birmingham and Zoe Taylor from Doncaster College and University Centre have been announced as the winners of the first Mars Foodservice Dolmio and Uncle Ben's Foodservice Student Catering Challenge.
Monday 23 January saw eight catering students battle it out in a live cook-off at the Great Hospitality Show. The students had just one hour to demonstrate their culinary skills by preparing two dishes suitable for a casual dining menu.
Reynolds took the titles for best gluten-free main course, best dessert and the special award for best overall menu, as well as a silver Salon Culinare award. He impressed the judges with his main course of poached Atlantic cod with gluten-free crust, herb rice-stuffed pepper, kale with bacon, arrabbiata and brown shrimp sauce, made with Dolmio arrabbiata sauce. His dessert was a korma and coconut cheesecake with lime curd and Szechwan mango compote, made with Uncle Ben's korma and Szechwan sauces.
Taylor's baked tomato and basil cannelloni, made with Dolmio tomato and basil sauce, won her best vegetarian starter and a bronze Salon Culinaire award.
Judges marked not only the quality of the final dishes, but also the cleanliness of work spaces, preparation and cooking techniques.
The six other finalists also all achieved bronze standard and Merit Salon Culinaire awards: Sam White, Doncaster College and University Centre; Tom Poskitt, Doncaster College and University Centre; Catherine Worely, North Hertfordshire College; Harry Tunnicliffe, North Hertfordshire College; Nicole Watts, North Hertfordshire College; and Jun Au, University of West London.
The competition was launched to support the Dolmio and Uncle Ben's foodservice products and created especially with catering students in mind.
Willem Fijten, culinary product design scientist in the Mars global product development team, said: "Our young chefs are very talented and to see what these students have achieved during this competition has made both Mars Foodservice and myself very proud. To see the quality of what they are cooking is inspiring and extremely encouraging for the future.
"They are the new generation and there is a huge amount of new upcoming talent that we can to learn from as these students bring new trends, dishes and fresh ideas into the industry. Mars Foodservice will certainly be looking to work with catering colleges again in 2017."