From education to employment

NKC Professional Cookery students head to Birmingham for Prep, Cook, Serve competition.

Two NKC students cooked up a storm at the “Prep, Cook, Serve” competition held in Birmingham on Tuesday 2nd May, competing against other colleges from around the country.

A competition focusing on celebrating potatoes and the varieties grown in the UK was opened to Level 1 learners to inspire and develop them during their training. The competition has been set up by the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) to promote the potato. Running several campaigns within education, from primary schools through to FE Colleges, they are hoping to raise the awareness of the staple ingredient that many have come to take for granted.

Professional Level 1 Cookery students were originally given the challenge to create a dish showing an inventive use of the potato. 15 entries were entered into the competition, and the lucky two, Emily-Rose Clark and Jacob Sarsam, were invited to head to the finals in Birmingham. The other colleges came from all over the UK; competing were City of Bristol, Blackpool & Fylde, Newham and Lakefield Hospitality and NKC, to showcase the huge amount of talent there is around the country.

The competition standards were extremely high and all teams created some exceptional dishes. They had just a small window of an hour and a half to prep, cook and serve their dish before being judged by Chris Marriott, executive chef at L’atelier cookery school, Paul Wood, senior chef lecturer from PACE and Lucy Carroll, from Carroll’s potato growers.

Emily-Rose created a deep-fried potato curry ball served with a sweet chilli sauce, whilst Jacob re-created the iconic Croque -Madame, using potato cakes instead of bread. Both were given positive comments during feedback from the judges, whilst also being given tips and advice on how to improve their skills further.

Sue Lawton, Education co-ordinator at AHDB, commented on the day, “There have been some fantastic entries, and I am astounded at how professional they were. Considering they are Level 1 learners, their approach to the competition has been very mature”.

NKC encourage its students to enter competitions such as these, as it allows the students to gain practical experience that prepares them for the world of work, whilst giving them an insight of what the industry demands.

Duncan Weetman, Curriculum Manager Hospitality & Catering, was very pleased with the students’ work saying “This competition is a great opportunity for Level 1 learners to cut their teeth on competition work. It gives them a chance to showcase their skills they have already gained, and get some constructive feedback from someone other than their tutor. I am hoping that this will give them the enthusiasm and appetite to enter more competitions as they move into the Level 2 programme”.

NKC Level 1 professional cookery student, Jacob Sarsam, said of the event, “Participating in this competition has proved to be a very insightful experience. Seeing such a wide variety of dishes and ideas from the other contestants was greatly inspiring. Being suddenly introduced to a new kitchen environment helped give me some perspective on how adaptable a chef needs to be in order to be successful. I enjoyed competing in the event and hope to have similar opportunities in the future”

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