Mouth-watering menus and innovative ideas won City College Plymouth students two titles at the annual Inspire Hospitality and Catering Competition.
Eight students took part in the final of the national cookery competition held at Reading College. The Inspire Hospitality and Catering Competition challenged the young people to test not only their cooking skills but their talent for business. They were tasked with creating a restaurant concept and bringing it to life through a detailed business plan, menu design and signature dish.
Each team had two hours to produce their signature dish, before facing a boardroom style interview with the judging panel, answering questions about their restaurant concept and business plan.
The esteemed judging included: Ashley Palmer Watts – Chef Director, Dinner by Heston Blumenthal; William Baxter CBE – Chair of Hospitality Action; Mark Hastings – Restaurant Director, Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park; Gareth Sefton – Managing Director, SHW Design; and Pauline Odulinski OBE – Chair of Inspire.
City College was represented by three groups. ‘Pilgrims Diner’ in the Intermediate category who created ‘The Pilgrim Fathers’ Feast’ – a thanksgiving inspired dish of orange and honey glazed turkey steak, creamed potato, cranberry puree, meatloaf bonbons and seasonal vegetables. It was homage to the settlers who left Plymouth for America and a nod to the upcoming Mayflower 400 celebrations.
The second group, ‘Bretonside Bites’, entered the advanced category whose ‘Surf and Turf Burger’ – a freshly ground beef chuck patty, topped with tonic battered soft shell crab, accompanied with a fresh and vibrant slaw, and crispy skin on fries – went down a treat.
Also competing in the advanced were ‘Nourish in Hooe’, who created an ‘on trend’ concept of ‘eating for vitality’, including gluten free and vegan dishes. Their dish on the day was a vegetarian, chickpea burger in a freshly made gluten free bun, accompanied with sweet potato fries.
Chaz Talbot, Academy Manager of hospitality and care at City College, said: “Our students have been practicing for weeks and all their hard work has really paid off. This competition has helped these young people to gain vital skills they will need in order to succeed in the hospitality industry. The creative brief allowed the students to explore the business side of the trade and dip their toes into the world of running a financially viable company. They did extremely well and we are very proud of them!
“They were calm under the pressure and showed a real passion for not only cooking the food, but the ideas and business side of their restaurant concept. They were an absolute credit to the College and maintained a professional attitude throughout.”
The prize for the winning team was the opportunity to spend the day with Ashley Palmer-Watts at one of the Fat Duck Group restaurants, as well as a trophy and certificate. Last year’s winners were lucky enough to be invited for lunch in the private dining room at Dinner.