A trio of trainee chefs from New City College were crowned UK champions following an exciting live ‘cook-off’ at the final of the Country Range Student Chef Challenge 2022.
Students Maria Carbone, Sam Paoli and Paulo Dela Cruz described their win as ‘a dream come true’ and their tutor Jeff Mason said he was ‘quite emotional’.
The three, who are studying Level 3 Professional Cookery at the Hackney campus and train in the college’s OKN1 restaurant, competed under intense pressure in front of a live audience at the International Salon Culinaire based at the Excel Centre, London, where the Hotel, Restaurant & Catering Show was being held.
Seven other colleges from around the UK had made it through to the final, and all the teams were assessed under the watchful eyes of the judges – two of the top chefs in the country, Michel Roux Jr and Brian Turner – as they prepared, cooked and presented their dishes in timed conditions.
The New City College team’s menu and food were described as inventive and flavoursome with the judges praising their supreme cookery skills. They said: “We were really impressed and actually quite shocked by the quality of food. The team also had the smallest station but they were still able to win due to their tremendous teamwork and adaptability.”
Student Maria Carbone said: “It was an amazing feeling when we heard the judges announce our team as the winners. This means so much to me because I came to England from Venezuela in 2017, without my parents, and I only spoke a little English. I’m very proud and really appreciate the opportunity to take part in this competition.