Chefs' Challenge

Chefs' Challenge

The TUCO Chefs' Challenge will see a team of two chefs cook a three-course meal for 2 covers.

Teams will submit menus for fine dining as part of their entry, which they will cook on Wednesday 28th March 2018. The competition is open to all levels and is an opportunity to demonstrate team work, skills and talent.

Our suite of temporary kitchens created just for this event will be back for 2018.  An audience will be able to watch as our eight kitchen stations cook the food in front of them.  Equipment provided in the kitchens include; electric 4 ring hob and oven, electric salamander grill and preparation tables.  Competitors may bring their own additional small equipment.  This additional equipment must be capable of being set up in the kitchen within five minutes, and any equipment requiring power must run off a standard 13 amp plug socket, and draw no more than 500 watts of power.  A maximum of two power points are available per chef station for these additional items.
Table top domestic deep fat fryers will be available as will a vac pack unit in an adjacent banqueting kitchen, suggest teams bring their own vac pac bags.

Proudly sponsored by Bidfood


Our competition sponsor Bidfood have support from Major International and Nestlé Professional.

Should competitors wish to include any Nestlé Professional or Major International products in their dishes for the competition, free samples can be requested through these contacts:
- Nestlé Professional, Jemma Maguire This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
- Major International, Steve Smith This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


About the Competition

All equipment must be delivered to the venue on Tuesday 27 March between 10am and 2pm and must be clearly labelled with the team name. Neither the venue, or the organising committee, can be held responsible for any breakages, damage or loss which may occur, although every reasonable precaution will be taken in order to prevent such occurrences.

The venue staff will dispose of any equipment not collected by noon on Thursday 29 March.

Teams are advised to bring with them all ingredients they would like to use, with the exception of two key ingredients (one to be used in the starter, and one to be used in the main), which will be announced two weeks prior to the competition, and will be supplied for you.  Teams should bring a trolley for transporting their ingredients and equipment around the venue.

The kitchen stations and times will be drawn at on Tuesday 27 March. Only team members are allowed to be at the draw.

Vegetables may be washed or peeled, pastry prepared, prior to the commencement of the competition, but no other preparation will be allowed.

All electrical items brought to the competition must have a valid PAT tested sticker on them otherwise they cannot be used.

Shared refrigerators and freezers will be available.

Teams may bring only two items of specialist equipment excluding scales, stick blender, and food processor

Each team will be responsible for washing up and will be supported by the venue.

Teams must vacate their competition kitchen within fifteen minutes of the end of the competition. On completion, the Hygiene Award judge will inspect each competition kitchen.

No loose kitchen equipment (eg pots and pans etc) will be provided and teams must ensure they provide all their own cooking and other equipment they will be using during the competition. Cleaning equipment and materials will be provided.  Don’t forget your pots, pans, sieves, spoons, containers etc


Kitchen Apparel

Chef’s protective clothing should be worn at all times by team members when present in the competition kitchens.  Team member’s hair is to be covered at all times when present in the competition kitchens.

Changing facilities are available but no responsibility will be accepted for any losses whatsoever.

Chef's jackets will be sponsored and provided for you.  Points will be lost if any other jackets are used.

No responsibility will be accepted for any loss or damage to personal belongings, equipment etc, however caused.

Dishes are to be served in course order and may be presented from one hour 15 minutes into the competition. Points will be deducted for dishes served after the finishing time of two hours.

Both covers should be presented.  One will be used for photographic purposes and spectators and one for judging.

No other items of food may be presented. 

Please ensure you refer to the crockery specification, when you receive this.


Tips to bear in mind prior to the competition

  • Remember – taste, kitchen skills and presentation are of equal importance and that over-garnishing, irrelevant or inedible garnishes will cause the dish to lose points
  • Hygiene and safety is of the utmost importance. Teams will lose points for bad practices. Think carefully how you demonstrate good hygiene and kitchen safety practices
  • Wastage should be kept to a minimum. Teams creating unnecessary wastage will lose points
  • Keep to the time allowed, otherwise you will be penalised
  • Consider carefully the balance and portion size of your menu
  • Think - hot plates - hot food, cold plates - cold food


Hygiene & Food Safety

  • Think about your HACCP - don’t go mad with forms and logs, but think through the critical points and how they are to be controlled
  • Equipment - don’t bring along tired old equipment - old cutting boards, cracked spoons, rusting sieves, cracked blenders etc. Watch out for dirty knives and other equipment. Glass is also a no-no!
  • Dress - Crisp ironed whites, with clean shoes or clogs are essential. Hair tidy, tied back or hair net if necessary
  • Plastic gloves - can be used if competitors have cuts or for final plate up if they wish. They should not be used for raw food.  Plastic aprons can be used for raw food work at the start.
  • Probe thermometer, probe wipes, disposable cloths, first aid kits (blue plasters) should be carried
  • Training in Food Hygiene should be to at least basic level, Intermediate for the team manager. Knowledge of the critical steps is important for all team members
  • Sanitizer must be used at appropriate times
  • Care with waste is necessary
  • Don’t work in a clutter - keep stations tidy, clean as you go! Keep sinks tidy
  • Use the wash-hand basins
  • Don’t excessively handle food. It looks obvious when seen by judges
  • Cloths - only for hot pans, be careful about wiping down and cloths touching the floor.  Only use disposables to wipe down. Don’t wipe plates with oven cloths!
  • Watch habits - touching hair, picking and scratching, tasting food etc
  • Good clean down at the end
  • Do monitor with a probe but don’t go mad. It’s a culinary skills competition!


Top tips for success on the day

  • Each dish you choose must not only stand alone in its own right, but come together and harmonise as a balanced meal in flavours, colours, textures and portion size
  • Show as many culinary skills as possible without over-complicating your food
  • Concentrate on flavours and acceptable levels of seasoning. Do not incorporate too many flavours which, in some cases, can work against each other and overpower. Too much going on can take away from the natural flavour of the main ingredient
  • Food and plates need to be at the correct temperature
  • Presentation needs to be pleasing to the eye and clean. Does it say "eat me"? Do not overcrowd
  • Concentrate on ingredients that work together
  • Cook food you are comfortable with, do not overstretch yourselves, resulting in a poorly executed dish
  • Achieve timings for chosen dishes, cook to sensible levels
  • Concentrate on flavour, portion size and presentation without losing sight of all aspects
  • Show innovation
  • Always adhere to the competition criteria and enjoy your cooking!


Judging criteria

The overall winners will be the team who, in the judges' opinion, have produced and presented the ‘best tasting meal’ in the most professional manner on the day.

The judging criteria will include:

  • Balance of taste, flavour, seasoning, colour and texture
  • Originality and imagination in the menu planning
  • Hygiene practices

 Written and verbal feedback will be given after the competition.


If you have any queries regarding your entry or booking please call the TUCO Competitions team on 0344 571 8208 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.



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Contact Us

The University Caterers Organisation Ltd

3rd Floor, National House

St Ann Street, Manchester

M2 7LE

t: 0161 713 3420 e: info@tuco.ac.uk