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Passion to Inspire Competition


11th of June 2014

The kitchens and Debut Restaurant at City College Norwich were the venue for The Grand Final of “A Passion to Inspire” this week, with Cambridge Regional College winning outright in a tough competition between four student teams from the East of England.


The heats and final of “A Passion to Inspire” stand out from other hospitality and catering skills competitions because of their focus on every aspect of the process, from students’ knowledge of produce, to designing and costing their menus, and exceptional front of house presentation and service of food and drink.


The competition also seeks to bring added benefits to the participating students and colleges by creating new links between professional chefs, suppliers of local produce and further education.  


To reach the final on Monday 9th June, the teams of three students from four colleges (Cambridge Regional College, City College Norwich, Colchester Institute and West Suffolk College) had to come through an earlier round of heats, with over 90 students being involved and inspired.


The student teams were each made up of two chefs and one front of house member. Prior to the final, each student team was paired with a top local chef and given a day’s mentoring and experience.  


The chef mentors were: Eric Snaith, Head Chef of Titchwell Manor (mentoring the City College Norwich students); Ian Rhodes, General Manager and Executive Chef of Le Talbooth Restaurant (Colchester Institute); Stuart Ascott, Chef at The Leaping Hare (West Suffolk College); and James Circuit, Executive Head Chef of Corpus Christi College (Cambridge Regional College).


For the final, each team had just 2 and a half hours in which to produce a three course meal for four covers. The students were challenged to come up with their own creative and personal dishes, with the same set of ingredients to work from.


The competition judges - Shara Ross (Director and General Manager of Hotel Felix), Paul Boorman (Executive Chef at Wivenhoe House), Paul Foster (Head Chef of Mallory Court), Nick Mills (Managing Director of Brasted’s) and Mark Poynton (Chef Patron of Restaurant Alimentum) – scored the students on all aspects of the preparation and service of their dishes, from working methods and hygiene, to seasonality and flavour of the dishes, to the students’ timing and presentation at the table.   


Following a high quality demonstration of skills and knowledge from all of the finalists, Cambridge Regional College’s team of Alice Kingham, Jo Start and Kieren Hurry were announced as the worthy winners of “A Passion to Inspire” 2014.


The CRC team’s winning dishes were: Confit salmon with crispy skin and pickled vegetables, buckthorn leaves and a citrus  dressing; Pigeon breast with braised leg croquette, potato terrine, spinach, glazed carrots, pig’s ear granola and a berry jus; and a dessert of “Millionaires Shortbread” shortbread crumble with salted caramel, chocolate ganache, brown butter ice-cream and a mixed berry compote.


The three winning students were presented with a commemorative Steelite plate and places to attend the prestigious Skills for Chefs annual conference.  All of the finalists received membership of the Craft Guild of Chefs, Steelite plates, a tasting menu at Michelin star Restaurant Alimentum and catering equipment and Jackets from Russums.


“A Passion to Inspire” 2014 was supported by Great partners Skills for Chefs, Craft Guild of Chefs, Russums , Steelite Plates, Loch Duart, Anglian Free Range Eggs, Direct Meats, CK Meats, Anglia Produce, Gourmet Classic, Dingley Dell Pork, Callebaut Chocolate, Freedom Food and Master Chefs of Great Britain. 


Murray Chapman, Co-ordinator of “A Passion to Inspire”, commented: 


“Ninety five students have been involved with this year’s “A Passion to Inspire” competition which is a massive number.  This competition is all about bringing together those in the industry, chefs and suppliers, with college lecturers and their students in order to inspire the next generation of hospitality and catering professionals.  A big thanks to Mark Bradly and all at City College Norwich for their hospitality in hosting the final and helping to make it such a great day.” 


Nick Mills, Managing Director of Brasteds and one of the judges, added: 


“The standard of competition was immensely high this year. All of the teams demonstrated excellent service front of house and attention to detail.” 


Mark Poynton, Chef Patron, Restaurant Alimentum, added:


“It is always a pleasure to work with young inspired people, it gives you faith that our industry has a great future.”


Alice Kingham, from the winning Cambridge Regional College team said:


“I was really pleased with how our salmon course came out.  My favourite part of the day was meeting everybody else and finding out what they do and I’ve also learned to be more confident in myself.”


Heather Hapogoda, a Professional Cookery level 3 student on the City College Norwich team said:


“It has been a great experience taking part in the competition.  I very much enjoyed working as part of a team and improving my cocktail-making skills. I made my first Martini today.”

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