TUCO announces competition winners

TUCO announces competitions winners
Winner of the new photography challenge, Philippa Page from University of Kent flanked by TV presenter Charlie Webster and chef Kevin Byrne
01/04/2019 - 12:31
The University Caterers Organisation (TUCO) has announced winners of its annual skills competitions at the University of Warwick, where more than 100 entrants competed.

Matt White, chair of TUCO, said: “The talent and skills shown by all competitors was fantastic and I was delighted to see the support. It’s exciting to see competitors deliver extraordinary breadth and range of hospitality skills. Congratulations to all of the winners.”

The competitions held on March 26 and 27 included a chef’s challenge, cook and serve challenge, Salon Culinaire, and barista and bar skills challenges. New for 2019 was a grab and go competition and photography challenge, with gold winners being Kim Barnish from Keele University and Philippa Page from University of Kent respectively.

Page said that it being the first photography challenge this year, she didn’t know what to expect, but participating in the competition, she said she’d thought about “composition and trying to capture the essence of the TUCO competitions and the chefs”.

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 speciality coffee to the judges, and gold was awarded to Flavia Zago from Imperial College London.

In the same arena as the barista competitions was the bar skills competitions, and winner of last year’s bar skills competition, Jack Wallis from Royal Holloway, University of London, returned to judge it. He said: “As nerve-racking as it was to be up on-stage, it was good fun, and to come back and be on the other side of the stage is really nice, interesting and a bit different.

“We’re not just looking for the flavours or what it looks like; we’re really interested in the techniques they’re using. It’s good to hear a background story about the reasons why the cocktails are done the way they are.”

This year, TUCO introduced a new twist to its bar skills competition – a timed challenge where the entire bar skills competitors had to create as many gin and tonics as possible in one minute. Sophie Knights from University of Sheffield won gold in the overall bar skills competition.

Many of the hot cookery competitions took place in the live theatre. Peter Griffiths, head of the chef’s panel of judges, said: “The judges are looking for the flavour of the food, and the presentation because we eat with our eyes as well, plus the way that the chefs work in the kitchen. We look for the overall balance throughout the courses, so that the starter, main and sweet work together and they harmonise with flavours and make it a pleasant experience for the customer.

“TUCO competitions are fantastic; I’ve been involved with this for more than 20 years and they’ve always excited me; long may it continue.”

TUCO competition gold award winners 2019:

Bar skills competition, best signature drink: Tonii D'astoldo, University of Reading

Bar skills competition: Sophie Knights, University of Sheffield

Photography challenge: Philippa Page, University of Kent

Grab & go challenge: Kim Barnish, Keele University

Barista skills: Flavia Zago, Imperial College London

Cook & serve challenge: Karol Zelek, Ross Wilson and Liga Boyd, University of Edinburgh

Chefs challenge: Mark Donovan and Douglas Shewan, University of Aberdeen

Salon Culinaire, best in salon: Rob Eddington, Oxford Said Business School

Salon Culinaire afternoon tea: Rob Eddington, Oxford Said Business School

Salon Culinaire coffee shop style sponge cake: Douglas Shewan, University of Aberdeen

Salon Culinaire cookie challenge: Hannah Argyle, University of York

Salon Culinaire decorative exhibit: Rachel Meikle, University of Edinburgh

Salon Culinaire novelty decorated cake: Jackie Rowlands, University of Chester

Salon Culinaire restaurant plated dessert: Rob Hattersley, University of Sheffield

Salon Culinaire tray bake: Rob Eddington, Oxford Said Business School

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