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TUCO reveals competitor line-up for annual skills competitions

The University Caterers Organisation (TUCO) has announced the line-up of competitors for their annual skills competitions. TUCO Competitions will return to the University of Warwick on 26-27 March and will see more than 100 competitors battle it out for best-in-class award.

The prestigious event will showcase a range of extraordinary talents and skills within university hospitality. Under TUCO’s banner LEARN, the TUCO Competitions is an excellent opportunity for delegates to learn from the broad range of skills on show.

Matthew White, chairman of TUCO, said, “Every year we focus on developing the whole competition experience. The competitions are an excellent opportunity and learning experience for the industry to come together to share their knowledge and expertise. With the diverse range of emerging trends, I’m looking forward to seeing many interesting new food concepts.”

To promote diversity and variety, this year, two brand-new competitions are being introduced, a photography challenge and a grab & go challenge. Both of which are relevant to current student eating and drinking habits

The brand-new photography challenge is perfect for the Instagram savvy catering operation seeking ‘picture perfect’ food and drink. In TUCO’s Global Food and Beverage Trends Report 2018, it found nearly six in ten (58%) of consumers aged 18-34 said they like to take pictures to share on social media, and with that in mind, this competition will showcase photographers with a good eye for natural, colourful food.

The grab & go competition challenges caterers to deliver two plates of a hot savoury dish using a bread or dough-based carrier, along with two plates of an allergy free dessert. These dishes must be suitable for a university grab and go outlet. In line with TUCO’s sustainability values, all competitors must use sustainable or disposable containers and wrappers.

These new challenges will run alongside TUCO’s established competitions including its popular bar skills competition, barista skills challenge, chefs’ challenge, cook & serve challenge and the exclusive salon culinaire.

Peter Griffiths MBE, President of British Culinary Federation and head judge of TUCO Competitions 2019, commented, “I am very much looking forward to TUCO Competitions 2019 and once again have invited a balanced, professional team of judges.

'Having judged at the prestigious skills competitions for more than 20 years, I have certainly seen the standards and culinary skills improve, year on year. It has also been pleasing to see that, over time, the TUCO Organising Committee has introduced new classes, both in Live and Display.

'The competition continues to grow, helping to keep chefs abreast of food trends and where the industry is at today. I am sure this year’s competitions will be as exciting and demanding as ever and feel positive that standards set, and skills shown will be a credit to all the competitors in the sector and help lift aspirations even higher.”

Andrew Bennet, TUCO Competitions judge and Chairman of the Craft Guild of Chefs said, “As chairman of the Craft Guild of Chefs, I am looking forward to judging the Chefs’ Challenge at the prestigious annual TUCO Competitions.

'The Guild believe that competitions are key to the development of skills and careers. I expect that teams will have been practicing in advance and that they have refined their dishes to ensure that they are balanced, seasoned and full of flavour.

'This sector is producing some great chefs and it is fitting that many institutions are at the forefront of industry events throughout the year. We hope to see university chefs competing in the Craft Guild of Chefs National Chef of the Year in the coming years.”

Competition winners are announced at the Gala Dinner on 27 March 2019. The host for the evening will be sports broadcaster Charlie Webster, who has worked extensively for Sky Sports, Eurosport and Channel 4.