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Catering students go head-to-head in a virtual inter-college cook off

Determined to offer learners the full college experience, Catering lecturers organised and hosted a #virtual Cambridge Regional College inter-college catering competition for Level 3 catering students @CRC_College and @LambethCollege 

The Lecturers worked with colleagues at both colleges to recruit competitors, and establish a judging panel of catering lecturers and industry experts for the video call competition, which is believed to be the first of its kind in colleges.

Prior to the event, the competitors were given the brief of preparing a pastry dish in their domestic kitchens using household equipment and everyday ingredients. The learners were tasked with producing a recipe, for submission ahead of the competition, and in-line with the competition rules they could practice their dish, producing work plans with timings and weigh and measure all ingredients in preparation.

On the day of the competition, the team was joined by the judging panel and special guests for the live event which would see four students from each college compete in the cook-off. With their cameras on and 2.5 hours on the clock the students were given the go-ahead to start preparing their dish under the watchful eye and enquiring minds of the judges who were looking for a number of things to assist them in scoring the participants, such as overall performance, preparation skills, hygiene and cleanliness of the work area and the student’s knowledge of specific techniques required in producing their dish.

In addition, the judges and guests asked the competitors questions throughout, to learn more about the dish and their approach to the preparation. When asked whether anyone had experienced any technical difficulties, Aelia commented, “I have had to re-do my caramel bowl as I couldn’t get it out of the mould. I hope the second one comes out.”

Once the students had completed their dish, they were asked to provide photographic evidence before retiring to allow the judges to deliberate. For many this was the first competition they had taken part in and, with the additional element of it being in a lockdown situation, limiting the facilities and removing the opportunity to check out the competition, the experience was a real challenge.

Service Industries Team Leader, Graham Taylor said,

“Taking part in a competition is a big step at this level, but a virtual competition is something very new to us all. The skills demonstrated have been of a high standard throughout.”

After an exciting morning of cooking, all eight competitors served up a dish to be proud of leaving the judges with the difficult task of scoring them on a range of disciplines. After much discussion and a count up of the scores, Lambeth College was announced as overall winner taking away a sponsorship prize from industry suppliers Russums, while the podium positions were awarded to Lucia, Flo and Aelia.

Catering Lecturer and competition organiser said,

“The learners looked well-organised, using their work plans as a reference to progress well in their preparations. This has been a fantastic way of overcoming barriers to work with partners on a fun and engaging project.”

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