Sunderland students impress top seafood chefs in national contest

(left to right) Ben Bartlett, George McIvor and Franck Pontais made up the judging panel
(left to right) Ben Bartlett, George McIvor and Franck Pontais made up the judging panel
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Sunderland College students reeled in competition judges to win Best Mains in the regional heats of the The UK Young Seafood Chef of the Year competition.

The college’s new City Campus proved the ‘plaice’ to be when it hosted the heat, which saw students from across the country tasked with creating a three-course menu for judges using a specific type of fish.

The Sunderland College students accepting their award

The Sunderland College students accepting their award

Founded in 1996 by Grimsby Institute, the contest has been supported by some of the best chefs in the UK including Jean-Christophe Novelli and Tom Aikens, and provides young chefs with a platform to demonstrate their flair, understanding, skill and ability using seafood from sustainable sources.

The competing chefs were able to take advantage of the new state-of-the-art kitchen at the campus, which also runs as commerical restaurant City Bistro which is headed up by North East chef Kelvin Linstead.

The students presented their meals to an expert panel, comprised of celebrity barbecue chef Ben Bartlett, private chef and food consultant Franck Pontais, and George McIvor from Master Chefs of Great Britain, who scored each dish while invited guests sampled the competitors’ seafood fare in the new restaurant.

Though the Sunderland College students didn’t scoop a place in the finals, they were awarded the Best Mains awards for their dish of hake, purple broccoli, peas, pea puree and purple potatoes with hot tartare sauce.

Ellen Thinnesen, Sunderland College principal, said: “It was an honour to play a part in The UK Young Seafood Chef of the Year competition and to witness the incredible culinary talent which is being produced by colleges across the country. We were overwhelmed by the quality of the dishes prepared by the young competitors, and all of the diners were very impressed with their meals and the professionalism of the students.

“Colleges are a gateway for young people to develop innovative and specialised skills, and it is essential that students are given the opportunity to showcase their abilities through events and competitions like this one, particularly when they are supported by leading industry professionals.”

Paul Robinson, competition coordinator for Grimsby Institute, said: “It was great working with the staff and students at Sunderland College. The day was carried out with the utmost professionalism and the learners in the catering department are a credit to the college. All the teams that visited were so impressed with the facilities - we will be returning again next year as it was such a great success.”

The new City Campus opened in September following an investment of £29million to develop a city centre base.