Students cook up a storm at the Pidy Student Catering Challenge Final

Belgian pastry specialist Pidy, is delighted to announce that Mun Ni Yew from Walsall College has won the title of ‘Best Afternoon Tea’ at the Pidy Student Catering Challenge grand final cook-off - which took place at the Claire Clark Academy, Milton Keynes College. Mun Ni competed alongside five other finalists who all delivered dishes of an excellent standard, but it was her international-inspired take on the quintessential afternoon tea that won the day.

In joint runner up position was Alex Buckby from Dudley College and Clare Turner from the London Geller College of Hospitality & Tourism, University of West London for their afternoon teas inspired by romance and a touch of tropical.

The students were challenged to reinvent the tradition of afternoon tea using a selection of four sweet and neutral tartlets in different sizes and styles from the Pidy range. The afternoon tea had to include both sweet and savoury elements and be prepared in one hour.

Mun Ni’s afternoon tea consisted of four tartlets that all represented different countries and included different specialities that they are renowned for, whilst preserving the elegant style of traditional afternoon tea. The first of which was a Malaysian chicken, potato and egg curry tartlet which was inspired by Mun Ni’s heritage and provided a new take on coronation chicken that was packed with Nanyang flavour. The second savoury tart combined avocado,smoked salmon, cucumber and crispy bacon for a refreshing balance of British flavours. Her two sweet dishes were inspired by French and Italian cuisines with a double chocolate and raspberry tartlet and an innovative take on the classic Italian dessert Tiramisu.

All of the finalists did exceptionally well, not only in producing four different recipes in one hour but also presenting their skills on the day in a professional manner. The judging panel, made up of Ana Paula Oliver, Group Pastry Chef for Restaurant Associates and Bake Off Creme de la Creme Contestant, Andrea Ruff, Course Team Leader for Patisserie at Milton Keynes College and winner of the Craft Guild of Chefs ‘Chef Lecturer Award’ 2019, alongside Robert Whittle, Managing Director at Pidy UK and last year’s winner, Chloe Hammond.

The judges were impressed by each of the student’s different themes and the exceptional creativity across the board, but also the cleanliness of the students’ workspace, their efficient preparation and the techniques used to create their dishes in the hour.  

The judges praised Mun Ni’s International afternoon tea for her “well-balanced and bold range of flavours that promoted cultural diversities, whilst carefully preserving the tradition of afternoon tea.”, and were impressed with her “beautiful presentation and the way in which she thought outside the box with her display.” They also commented on how “Mun Ni managed her time efficiently and created four complex recipes in the short time frame.”

Mun Ni Yew, from Walsall College was thrilled to have won the first competition she’s ever entered:

“My aim was to create an afternoon tea that includes some of the best flavours and dishes from around the world, while still keeping in line with the elegance and tradition of British Afternoon Tea. I wanted to update and make it modern in my own way. Each element was inspired by a different country, as well as adding my own twists to classic recipes. For example, I made a Malaysian chicken and potato curry instead of a traditional coronation chicken which was inspired by my upbringing and family. All of the contestants did amazingly and I never imagined I’d be the winner today. It’s the first competition I’ve entered and the whole experience has given me so much confidence and inspired me to follow my dream of becoming a pastry chef in the future.”

Robert Whittle, Managing Director at Pidy UK was blown away by the student’s professional manner and creativity on the day:

“This is the third competition for Pidy and it was great to see how the students took on the new brief and really pushed their practical and creative ability to the max. The range of Pidy tartlets were the perfect canvas and each student transformed them into completely unique creations which they should be very proud of. Our goal for these competitions is to engage with the next generation of chefs and encourage them to showcase their creativity and skills to the wider industry. Everyone did so well and we can’t wait to see where the competition takes them next!”

Pidy would also like to congratulate all finalists, who successfully reached the final having had their entries judged against students from across the country. All six dishes were produced to an exceptionally high standard, making the judging process at the final all the more difficult.

The list of finalists included:  

·        Warittorn Sa-Ardsorn, London Geller College of Hospitality & Tourism, University of West London

·        Clare Turner, London Geller College of Hospitality & Tourism, University of West London

·        Jadzia Bell, Loughborough College

·        Alex Buckby, Dudley College

·        Mun Ni Yew, Walsall College

·        Megan Bell, Walsall College

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