Highlighting our sustainability in a competition’s national finals

Highlighting our sustainability in a competition’s national finals

How do you get through to the national finals of a competition when the challenge is to create a vegan and sustainable dish?

Not a problem when your training kitchen is already using a sustainable source through the cooperative of local allotment growers, the Manchester Veg People.

Trainee Commis Chef Douglas Staton reached the pinnacle of the Nestlé Toque d’Or in March with Charred Cauliflower, Ras El Hanout, Baba Ganoush, Pickles and Chai Crackers, which he costed and presented on video.

Douglas, who practises the skills he learns at College on an apprenticeship with Erst, said: “I was delighted and slightly shocked to hear I had got through to the next round of the competition, especially due to my wooden performance in front of the camera!

“The college was instrumental in getting me first apply for the competition and secondly getting me through to the next round. My tutor Paul made me aware of the competition and then gave me time in college hours to develop on the idea, while helping guide my choices.

“In the future, I hope to firstly finish off my apprenticeship, then use the skills I have learnt to travel the world as a chef, and then finally create a business focused on sustainable and ethical food production.”

Choosing this rising star to help further his career ambitions, Tutor Paul Taylor supported Douglas to practise his recipe seven times over several weeks and with the final production of the film.

Paul said: “I chose Doug for the competition as he is an extremely motivated young man that is really passionate about food and especially anything using ingredients to challenge such as 'veganism' organic produce and sustainable ingredients.

“His apprenticeship so far is going fantastically, with him now practising his end point assessment exam dishes ready for the completion of the Commis Chef apprenticeship, then he hopes to move onto a Level 3 Apprenticeship.

“In terms of sustainability ourselves, we have been using the Manchester veg people for quite some time now. They are a local cooperative of small organic allotment growers that are within a 20 mile radius of college, this is a fantastic learning tool for the students on supporting local community, farming the right way and also what is in season in the UK at any time.”

Nestlé Toque d’Or is an annual competition for students and apprentices, which has been running for 31 years. Past participants have included famous names in the profession, such as Jamie Oliver, James Martin and Anton Mosimann.