Students Triumph at the “DOLMIO® & UNCLE BEN’S® Foodservice Student Catering Challenge” Live Cook-Off Final!

  • On 27th January 2017


Aimia Foods is delighted to announce the winners from the much anticipated “DOLMIO® & UNCLE BEN’S® Foodservice Student Catering Challenge”!

Jack Reynolds, University College Birmingham

Zoe Taylor, Doncaster College and University Centre

Monday 23rd January 2017 saw Jack and Zoe compete alongside 6 other catering students to battle it out in a live Grand Final Cook-Off at ‘The Great Hospitality Show’ – the UK’s leading catering and hospitality exhibition, for the chance to win the titles ‘Best Vegetarian Starter’‘Best Gluten Free Main Course’‘Best Dessert’ and a special award for ‘Best Overall Dish’.


Competing in the Show’s prestigious Live Theatre in front of their peers, industry professionals and some of the highest regarded chefs in hospitality, the students had just one hour to demonstrate their culinary skills and expertise in the kitchen, by preparing two dishes suitable for a casual dining menu.


Jack Reynolds took home an outstanding three titles for ‘Best Gluten Free Main Course’,  ‘Best Dessert’ and the special award for ‘Best Overall Menu’, as well as a most coveted Silver Salon Culinare Award.  Zoe Taylor won the ‘Best Vegetarian Starter’ and a Bronze Salon Culinaire Award. In just 60 minutes, both Jack and Zoe kept cool in the heat of the kitchen, as the judges marked not only the quality of the final dishes, but also cleanliness of their workspace, their preparation and their cooking techniques.  Both took competing in the prestigious Salon Culinaire Live Cooking Theatre in their stride.

On Workstation Five, Zoe Taylor’s exceptional combination of preparation, presentation and flavourful ingredients certainly didn’t go unnoticed by judges, with her ‘Baked Tomato and Basil Cannelloni’ made with DOLMIO® Tomato and Basil sauce, winning her ‘Best Vegetarian Starter’.

Meanwhile, on Workstation Eight, Jack Reynolds, University College Birmingham impressed the judges with first his Main Course of ‘Poached Atlantic Cod with Gluten Free Crust, Herb Rice Stuffed Pepper Kale with Bacon, Arrabbiata and Brown Shrimp Sauce’, made with DOLMIO® Arrabbiata Sauce, before wowing them with a unique take on cheesecake.  Jack’s ‘Korma and Coconut Cheesecake with Lime Curd, Szechwan Mango Compote’ not only took on board current industry trends of sweet and savoury menu combinations, but utilised the UNCLE BEN’S® Korma and Szechwan sauces to create a standout, delicious recipe.

The standard across the board in the competition was extremely high with 6 of the students all achieving Bronze standard, and Jack gaining a Silver.

Willem Fijten, Culinary Product Design Scientist in the Mars Global Product Development team spoke of his delight at the achievements of not just the winners, but all who took part in the Live Cook-Off Final:

“Our young chefs are very talented and to see what these students have achieved during this competition has made both Mars Foodservice and myself very proud. Each of the students created two unique and delicious dishes using our DOLMIO® & UNCLE BEN’S® products, creating Starters, Main Courses and even Desserts.  To see the quality of what they are cooking is inspiring and extremely encouraging for the future.

It’s hugely important to Mars Foodservice to connect with students and work with them throughout their journey into the industry. They are the new generation and there is a huge amount of new upcoming talent that we can to learn from as these students bring new trends, dishes and fresh ideas into the industry.  Mars Foodservice will certainly be looking to work with catering colleges again in 2017.”

Mars Foodservice also offers congratulations to the other 6 finalists who all received Bronze and Merit Salon Culinaire awards

Sam White, Doncaster College and University Centre

Tom Poskitt, Doncaster College and University Centre

Catherine Worely, North Hertfordshire College

Harry Tunnicliffe, North Hertfordshire College

Nicole Watts, North Hertfordshire College

Jun Au, University of West London