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University College Birmingham News

Star-studded judging panels for Easter competitions at UCB

The University was delighted to host two prestigious culinary competitions featuring some of the industry’s brightest stars just before the Easter vacation.

Leading chefs judged both the pastry and kitchen sections for the semi-finals of the Royal Academy of Culinary Arts Awards of Excellence.

At the same time, the College of Food also hosted the 2nd UK Sugar Championships on behalf of the UK Pastry Club.

Top chefs including Gary Jones, of Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons, André Garrett, of Cliveden, and patisserie supremo Claire Clark were among the star-studded judging teams for the Royal Academy contest.

Chefs competing in the Academy’s pastry section were given five hours to produce two Charlotte russe, classic strawberry jam, eight millefeuille and six portions of verrine, dainty desserts in a glass.

For the kitchen challenge, the competitors had to complete a number of theory and skills tests including preparing scallops, cooking a whole chicken and dauphinoise potatoes, and baking a lemon tart.

The UK Sugar Championships saw juniors and seniors from hotels and restaurants create an incredible set of artistic sculptures up to a maximum height of 1.2-metres. Their work, adorned with flowers and ribbons, had to be of the highest order to pass muster with judges, led by Benoit Blin, chef patissier at Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons and star of BBC-2’s “Bake Off Crème de la Crème.”

Alumni Lee heads street food “take-over” at McIntyre House

Alumni Lee Desanges returned to UCB with some leading chefs to give a masterclass in street food – from a truck parked at McIntyre House.

Lee, who studied professional cookery at the College of Food, is a star of the UK street food scene and was invited to take part in the event alongside Luke Tipping, chef director of Simpsons, Birmingham, and Simon Hulstone, chef proprietor of The Elephant, Torquay.

The trio swapped their kitchens for a food truck parked in the courtyard of the University’s higher education and postgraduate centre in the Jewellery Quarter.

Spice and seasoning specialist Santa Maria asked the chefs to conjure up some tasty dishes using its products and invited Birmingham food professionals to sample the innovative creations.

Birmingham-based Lee, who was named Best of the Best at the British Street Food Awards 2016 and trades as Baked in Brick, cooked up  chicken wings in hot sauce with tellicherry black pepper, which is produced in Kerala, India.

Luke served savoury “bon bons” of pigs head with apple, cassia, oregano and tellicherry while Simon served a delicious salted caramel with cassia and a rich chocolate torte with tellicherry.

Visitors were given an informal introduction to the Santa Maria range – and plenty of scrumptious tastings of the chefs’ cooking.

Leandra and Megan win a dream chocolate trip to Brussels

Two University patisserie and bakery students have won a trip to Belgium to learn more about chocolate after winning a prestigious competition.

Leandra Molina Beato and Megan Roberts, both studying the Bakery and Patisserie Technology degree excelled in Callebaut’s “Make It Special” competition.

They are two of six chefs who will find out about Callebaut’s Belgian roots, taking in a factory tour and a look at the company’s flagship academy in Brussels later this month.

The UCB students will also find out the latest innovations in patisserie and desserts in the “chocolate capital of the world”.

Leandra (pictured above), originally from the Dominican Republic, has been working in the pastry section at Simpsons restaurant in Birmingham during her studies. For the competition, she created a dark chocolate and raspberry entremet cake with a raspberry coulis and vanilla ice cream.

Robert Harrison, sales director gourmet-Northern Europe, Callebaut, said: “It has been an honour to see how chefs are pushing the boundaries when it comes to creating impressive and memorable desserts, and we are delighted to be able to host the crème de la crème on this exclusive trip.”

Aaron McLaughlin wins Wing Yip Oriental Cookery Young Chef of the Year 2017

A talented young chef from the Honourable Society of Lincolns Inn has won the coveted title – Wing Yip Oriental Cookery Young Chef of the Year 2017.

A talented young chef from the Honourable Society of Lincolns Inn has won the coveted title – Wing Yip Oriental Cookery Young Chef of the Year 2017.

Aaron McLaughlin, 25, battled it out at a cook-off held at University College Birmingham (UCB) yesterday (Wednesday 5th April 2017). The winner was announced at an official awards dinner at UCB later that day.

As well as the accolade, Aaron has also won a once in a lifetime trip to Hong Kong where he will gain an insight into the hospitality industry at Michelin-starred restaurants and explore the region’s well-known street food scene.

Putting Aaron and the other finalists through their paces was an elite panel of judges including MasterChef finalist, Larkin Cen.

On winning Wing Yip Oriental Cookery Young Chef of the Year, Aaron said: “I am absolutely delighted, this is really a dream come true. I faced some challenging competition from the other finalists, but having placed third last year, I was able to take on board feedback from the judges to work on and develop my skills and I returned a winner – what a brilliant end to a fantastic day!”

To receive a place in the cook-off the 16 finalists were required to submit a two-course Oriental menu idea, featuring a street food starter and a high quality restaurant standard main which they were to prepare for the judges on the day.

Aaron wowed the judges with a starter of Octopus rice roll, moille sauce and sesame and seaweed crisp followed by a main of creedy carver duck leg terrine, Asian greens, blood orange gel, duck skin and heart crisp with duck broth.

Close runners up in this year’s competition were Rhys McCausland securing second place, and Elyse Baxter who came third – both from the House of Commons. Each were presented with trophies and Wing Yip vouchers worth £500 (second place) and £250 (third place), to further their inspiration in Oriental cooking.

Larkin said: “Already in its fifth year, the nationwide competition has firmly established itself on the culinary calendar.

“The calibre of chefs, the diversity of the menus as well as each chef’s choice of Oriental ingredients were at an all-time high this year, which made selecting the winner and runners up extremely difficult.

“Aaron had really worked hard on flavour in every element of his cooking. The street food dish in particular shone in terms of both the creative presentation and the use of ingredients.”

Director Brian Yip, who oversaw the competition, added: “Since 2013, the competition has been championing some amazing young chefs from all over the country, with and without backgrounds in Oriental cuisine, and the latest cook-off was no exception.

Aaron is thoroughly deserving of the title. His dishes were delivered to an exceptional standard, and his creativity was remarkable.”

“We hope he enjoys this once-in-a-lifetime experience in Hong Kong and that it helps him further develop as a chef.”

Aaron, Rhys and Elyse faced tough competition from 13 other finalists from trade and colleges, including;

(In alphabetical order)

Ted Adams, The Inn at Shipley, Wolverhampton

Krzysztof Borowiak, Yu Alderley Edge Restaurant, Cheshire

Kelly-Ann Brogan, Lyit School of Tourism

Lucy Cartwright, Bournville College

Craig Foulger, Bradford College

Joel Mills, Westminster Kingsway College

Ryan O’Connor, Royal Military Academy Sandhurst