Top gnocchi for our student chef Sarah

Top gnocchi for our student chef Sarah

Congratulations to Level 3 Professional Cookery student Sarah, 28, who has reached the final 12 of the prestigious Nestlé Professional Toque d’Or competition 2021.

The competition saw over 100 students and apprentices from across the UK compete. Students were split into four categories – Front of House Apprentice/young professional, Front of House Student, Back of House Apprentice/young professional, and Back of House Student, with each category being set challenges to impress the judges.

In Sarah’s category – Back of House Student – entrants had to create a vegetarian, sustainable and nutritional gnocchi dish, on a £20 budget, and cook and serve six portions in 90 minutes.

Sounds simple? Yes, but this is no ordinary competition. Entrants don’t just put their practical skills to the test, they also complete service-based and business-focused tasks. Keeping a photo and video diary of every stage – from selecting their sustainable ingredients to packaging and selling their dish, concentrating on key areas including social media promotion, business management and sustainable food and drink.

Students were provided with the gnocchi recipe which Sarah chose to serve with a roasted garlic, cauliflower, and locally sourced blue cheese sauce, with a wild garlic pesto, accompanied by asparagus, topped with crispy potato skins, crispy sage leaves, and pine nuts.

With things in the world being a bit different this year, the students could not serve their dishes to a panel of judges for tasting.  Instead, they were asked to donate portions to food and drink sharing app OLIO. Then OLIO members collected their food, and after tasting, submitted a feedback survey to assist with the judging.

Hospitality chef and lecturer at New City College, Jeff Mason, said: “I am absolutely delighted for Sarah. She has worked hard to get to this stage of the competition, and I will be with her every step of the way on her journey to the final challenges.”

Sarah will be competing against two other chefs in the Back of House Student category during the last week of June.

Want to try Sarah’s food? Book a table for our Wednesday night tasting menu at our restaurant OKN1, at our Hackney campus, where our trainee chefs take over the kitchen to cook and serve their own menus.  Sarah’s menus will be served on Wednesday 12 May (A taste of the Middle East) and Wednesday 9 June (Best of South East Asia).

See our restaurant website:

New City College student chef Sarah's gnocci dish for chef competition