University caterers win big at TUCO Competitions 2018

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More than 150 competitors raced against the clock and each other in 25 food and drink categories at the prestigious annual event organised by The University Caterers Organisation (TUCO)

The 25th silver anniversary The University Caterers Organisation (TUCO) competitions took place at The University of Warwick on the 26-28 March, in front of 400 industry heavyweights.

More than 150 competitors raced against the clock and each other in 25 food and drink categories at the prestigious annual event organised by TUCO. Competitions included Barista and bar skill challenges, a chef’s challenge, a campus speed cook challenge, cook and serve challenge, Salon Culinaire, and new for 2018, the Hotel, Operations, Tactics and Strategy (HOTS) business challenge.

Great atmosphere

Matt White, Chair of TUCO said: “I was delighted to see the support and great atmosphere across the competitions. The talent and skills shown by all of the competitors was fantastic. The event provides university caterers the opportunity to showcase their skills not just to the judges but also to a live audience. This three day extravaganza, really does deliver an extraordinary breadth and range of hospitality skills. Congratulations to all of the winners.”

The event launched with four learning and development seminars. The first of which on the power of social media, the second on discovering the four secrets to create nutritious plant-based food, the third was a masterclass on butchery and the fourth was the launch of TUCO’s brand new carbon calculator.

High standards

The first day of competitions saw the Barista competitors battle it out in the Barista skills competition. Each competitor had to produce and present their specialty coffee to a row of four judges. Gold winner was was awarded to Teodora Petkova, catering assistant from Cardiff University.
Dana-Maria Danut, Barista skills judge said: “We are looking for a barista that is able to engage us, not only through drinks but with customer service too. We’re looking for somebody that sets the standard very high and strives for that. I did it last year, so I know how stressful it can be. The standards are really high.”

For the HOTS business challenge, competitors took their places working in teams to manage a simulated hotel. They competed against the computer, to see which management performance was best overall. The competition took place over two days, with Samantha Emmott, Kevin Keohane, Alexis Moreau and Michaela Booth being crowned the winners.

Amazing experience

The majority of the challenges took place in the live theatre, which included the Campus Speed Cook challenge won by Kim Barnish, sous chef at Keele University, and the bar competition won by Jack Wallis, Royal Holloway University of London. Gold winner Jack said: “It was an amazing experience and even more amazing to win. I’m a bit speechless. The pressure was on and it was really exciting to be part of it. This is nothing like any other event.”

Matthew Hurst, Bar competition judge commented: “We’re after fantastic flavour, excellent knowledge and technique. We want to see an excellent looking cocktail, in terms of the final piece and the garnish. We also want to see how the drink is presented to us in terms of customer service and how they care about it. And finally, the aroma. We want some interesting choices with the spirits and liquors to deliver those things. The competition has been good. The hardest cocktail to make, the beer and cider cocktail, some have been great, some poor, some have been fabulous. There’s been a real mixed bag.”

Excellent results

The six teams competing in the Cook and Serve challenge delivered excellent results with Gary Smith, Richard Bakaity, Diana Comisescu, from Royal Holloway University of London bringing home gold.

Alan Whatley, Cook and Serve judge noted: “We look for something that excites us as chefs. Something we haven’t seen before. It doesn’t have to be a complete reinvention of the wheel, but we like to see that people have sat down and thought about what they are doing so that it’s not only going to excite us but it’s going to excite customers.”

A gala dinner, hosted by Peter Hancock, gathered all competitors and TUCO members to celebrate the winners and all who took part.

TUCO award winners 2018:

Bar competition: Jack Wallis, Royal Holloway, University of London
Bar competition, best signature cocktail: David Cooper, The University of Kent
Barista skills: Teodora Petkova, Cardiff University
Barista skills, best signature drink: Anna Wojcik, The University of Edinburgh
Chef’s Challenge: Richard Taylor, Giovanni DiVito, University College Birmingham
Chef’s Challenge best hygiene: Victoria Whitmarsh, Adrian Phillips, The University of Plymouth
Chefs’ Challenge highly commended menu: Aaron Tong, Adam Thur, University of York
Cook and serve: Gary Smith, Richard Bakaity, Diana Comisescu, Royal Holloway, University of London
Cook and serve, best food: Rian Devaney, Ross Wilson, Irena Magdalewicz, The University of Edinburgh
Cook and serve, best service: Gary Smith, Richard Bakaity, Diana Comisescu, Royal Holloway, University of London
HOTS Business challenge: Samantha Emmott, Kevin Keohane, Alexis Moreau and Michaela Booth
Speed Cook Challenge: Kim Barnish, Keele University
Salon Culinaire afternoon tea, gold and best in salon: Ben Slater, University of Sheffield
Salon Culinaire restaurant plated dessert: Gold Robert Blackwell, University of Cambridge
Salon Culinaire cookie challenge: Silver best in class Dave Quinn, University of Chester
Salon Culinaire cupcake challenge: Silver best in class Ravikkanth Kanthiya, Royal Holloway University of London.
Salon Culinaire Bread display: Bronze best in class Dave Quinn, University of Chester
Salon Culinaire Coffee shop style sponge cake: Bronze best in class Rob Eddington, Oxford Said Business School
Salon Culinaire Decorative exhibit: Bronze best in class Rachel Meikle, University of Edinburgh
Salon Culinaire Novelty decorated cake: Bronze best in class Dayana-Dawn Simpson, University of Huddersfield

 

Pictured: Cook and serve challenge Gold winner, Gary Smith, Richard Bakaity, Diana Comisescu, Royal Holloway, University of London