TUCO skills competitions mark 25th anniversary

TUCO Competitions University Warwick
07/03/2018 - 09:45
The University Caterers Organisation (TUCO) annual skills competitions return to the University of Warwick from March 26-28 March, celebrating 25 years of culinary excellence in the higher education sector. The event aims to showcase the wide range of university hospitality skills, with 150 competitors and 400 delegates involved.

Matthew White, TUCO chair says: “It’s unbelievable to think its 25 years of TUCO Competitions. So much has changed since it started. If you consider the current hyper-interest and differing approach to food and drink, the bar has simply never been higher.

"University caterers are in a unique position, during term time we cater for students across globe and as soon as the terms close, we go on to provide best in class corporate hospitality to FTSE companies. It’s an extremely broad range of skills required and the TUCO Competitions is an excellent opportunity to see all of those these skills on show.”

On Monday, 26th March, the event will open with competitors and visitors invited to several learning and development sessions in preparation for competitions the next day. Peter Griffiths, president of British Culinary Federation and head judge of TUCO Competitions 2018, says: “I am sure that TUCO 2018 will be yet another well contended event. I have been involved with judging for TUCO for over 20 years and during that time have certainly seen the standards and culinary skills grow, year on year.

"The main objective of starting the competition all those years ago was to help show off the calibre of staff working in the university sector and to give the chefs the opportunity to network and develop their skills.

"One of the results of this has been that talented chefs from within the industry have successfully moved over into the university sector, which in turn has helped to lift standards and aspirations even higher.”

The competitions programme begins on Tuesday 27th March. Competitions include the barista skills challenge, bar skills competition, cook and serve challenge, speed cook challenge and new to this year, the HOTS (hotel, operations, tactics and strategy) competition. The HOTS competition has teams working together to run a simulated hotel business, challenging participants to develop and manage a 125-bed virtual hotel over a

“It all started with the first event producing a combined university team, which included chefs from Warwick, Cambridge, Oxford and others, to come together and compete in La Parade des Chefs, Hotelympia, a feature I introduced into the show, as salon director, back in the mid-1990’s. Much interest grew from there, resulting in a decision to run this competition in-house. The first event was with 12 teams and within a few years we saw this increase to where we are now with 24 teams proudly representing their universities in the TUCO Chef Team Challenge. Following its continued success, a Display Salon was introduced five years ago, as well as a Cook and Serve and Speed Cook Challenge, both now in their third year.

"The competitions continues to evolve and grow, helping to keep the chefs abreast of food trends and where the industry is at today. I feel sure that this year’s competition will be as exciting and demanding as ever and I and my team of judges are once again very much looking forward to walking into the TUCO 2018 Competition arena.”

More than 150 entrants from universities across the UK will compete against each other in a wide range of competitions and activities to an expected crown of more than 400 delegates from catering and higher education industries. The competitions include: Bar skills, Barista Skills Challenge, Campus Speed Cook Challenge, Chefs’ Challenge, Cook & Serve Challenge and Salon Culinaire.

Awards will be presented at the Gala dinner following the close of Competitions 2018.

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