Turning raw ingredients into gastronomic delights has been the challenge this week for professional cookery students who’ve swapped the catering facilities at West Nottinghamshire College for their home kitchens.
And serving their delicious creations to their families has been an added bonus in the ‘Come Dine With Me’ style competition.
Chef tutor Mark Jones set the NVQ Level 3 Professional Cookery students the practical task of preparing and cooking an evening meal of their choice. His brief stipulated that the dinner must contain ingredients found in the house from cupboard supplies and the fridge or freezer.
Their meals had to be presented and plated-up in the same professional style that the students use in the Refined kitchens and restaurant at the Derby Road campus.
Also, as part of the challenge, students had to create a recipe card for their dish and write an overview of why they chose to cook it and outline any new methods or techniques they applied. An extension task was added to the challenge to create a dessert to finish the meal.
Among the dishes created were homemade Caribbean beef and onion patties with homemade chips and beans, pork and bean cassoulet, toad in the hole with vegetable and pomme purée, fajitas with salt and chilli pepper chips, diet coke chicken and home-made fries, chicken pasta bake and a cassoulet-stuffed aubergine on a bed of mushroom and spinach with pasta and a spinach cream sauce.
Their families gave feedback on the dishes giving scores out of ten. Once all learners had posted their pictures, their peers privately scored each other’s dishes based on presentation and how challenging and creative the dish was. Tutor Mark then collated the scores to pick an overall winner.
Chanel Clipston, 18, from Kirkby-in-Ashfield made the Caribbean beef and onion patties. She said: “I had some left over flour from when I made my dad’s 50th birthday cake, so I chose to make beef patties. I made these patties as a starter at college, however I thought I could improve them so I decided to make them again at home. I think they were better because the pastry didn’t rip and it kept a good shape.
“The only challenge I faced was trying to make it without the dog getting and he did manage to steal some of the beef mixture! My mum and dad liked it. They said it had nice flavours but the pastry was a bit dry so I think it could have done with a sauce or gravy to accompany it.”
The winning meal came courtesy of seventeen-year-old Ben Lancaster from Sutton-in-Ashfield. His diet coke chicken and home-made fries were a hit with his family.
Ben said: “I decided to make this version of chicken because it looked different and a bit ‘out there’. It’s also a very healthy meal. I also managed to create a lemon drizzle cake.
“It was a really good challenge to get involved in. It felt good doing something like this in my own kitchen. Online learning is going really well because my chef tutor is always supportive and gives us all the information we need and he makes it fun and very interesting so I’m looking forward to the next challenge.”
Chef tutor Mark Jones, who set the challenge, said: “I wanted the students to create some purely off-the-cuff creations using ingredients they had in their cupboards and fridge as I’m aware you’re restricted to what you can get from shops currently in these difficult times. Their families gave a range of very positive feedback and in the main they took to the challenge brilliantly.
“Everyone submitted their photographs and family comments to me privately and I decided on a winner. Ben did incredibly well and he won a virtual Easter egg!
“It’s been a popular task and they’ve asked for this again so in a couple of weeks we’ll do it again but I’ll raise the bar a little this time as they’ve had a bit more notice to prepare.