Catering students at Sunderland College could give Mary Berry a run for her money after creating a delicious selection of cakes in a bake-off style competition.
From the classic Victoria sponge to modern lemon meringue cupcakes, the students rustled up an array of tasty sweet treats for the college’s Wear Great British Bake Off.
Employers from the region descended on the college’s Hylton campus on Tuesday to taste the baked goods and judge the nine students on the taste, texture and presentation of their creations.
The judges decided that Raegan Armstrong’s carrot cakes were the winner, with Shantel Kennedy’s opera cake placing second, and Kelsey Stephenson awarded third place for her chocolate soufflé.
Raegan, 16, who is from Farringdon in Sunderland and is studying a Level 2 Diploma in Professional Cookery, said: “I was overwhelmed when they called my name for first place, especially because this is the first cooking competition I have entered, so it’s a great achievement. I enjoyed meeting the judges and they all gave me really good feedback.
“Being part of this event has helped me to develop numerous skills such as time keeping and communication, and it’s also helped me to grow in confidence as I had the chance to speak to people who work in the catering industry.”
Judge Steve Welch, who is executive head chef at 1879 Events Management, based at SAFC, said: “The students did a great job and their focus on the presentation and taste of the dishes meant that the standard was very high. We work closely with the catering and hospitality students at the college and we are well aware of their potential and look forward to helping develop their culinary skills.”
Judge Kate Harland, sales researcher for Marriott Hotel, added: “The students produced some fantastic desserts, really showcasing their abilities and creativity. Based on what I saw at the bake off, I have no doubt that the students will be heading in to a career in some of the top kitchens in the North East.”
Businesses were invited to attend and judge the event as part of the college’s drive to highlight its students’ skills to employers and to build strong relationships with local organisations.
The college is looking to expand its apprenticeship provision in the catering and hospitality sector and is keen to link up with businesses who are seeking apprentices.
Rob Stewart, curriculum leader for catering and hospitality, said: “We believe is it important to invite employers into the college for them to see first-hand the incredible talents of our students. The links that are formed at this early stage in the students’ career can have a significant effect on how they progress in future and could result in job or apprenticeship opportunities.
“The catering sector is highly competitive and we want to make sure our students have the very best start in the industry. After speaking with businesses, we know that many of them are interested in taking on catering apprentices and we are looking forward to working with them as we grow our provision in this area.”