Harlow College student wins top catering prize in Italy

Education / Thu 29th Jun 2023 at 08:02am

A HARLOW College catering student has finished top in the first Unox UK Combi-Guru challenge following months of hard work and an intensive three-day final challenge in Padova.

25-year-old Harlow College final year student, Keiran Raphy (main image), and 18-year-old Catherine Ripley, in her second year at Westminster Kingsway College, triumphed in the challenge, which required participating students to complete a range of daily tasks and timed Q&A sessions consistently over a period of several weeks.

First introduced to the students by their tutor teams, Keiran scored more than 3,000 points in the first stage of the challenge to secure his place at the finals in Padova, the location of the Unox global head office.

Over the course of three days, both Catherine and Keiran – accompanied by college tutors – were able to immerse themselves in the culinary heritage of Italy, enjoying the sights, sounds and smells of the historic Vento region, by wandering the food markets, finding little known local lunch spots, and working with a range of inspirational chefs at the final of the prestigious cooking competition.

Based on a two-course service created in just three hours, Keiran’s winning menu of lamb, whipped feta, roasted vegetables and chimichurri, wowed the judges, as did his dessert of a cinnamon custard tart complete with dark chocolate crémeux , featuring Keiran’s own impressive sugar work.

Catherine’s rack of lamb, complete with spring vegetable stuffed courgette was also highly commended by judges.

Alongside the trip and each students’ personal prize of a set of top-quality knives, both winning colleges will receive a brand-new combi-oven courtesy of Unox – and it couldn’t come a moment too soon, as one of the training kitchen’s ovens is coming to the end of a 15-year long shift!

Harlow College lecturer Andy Wright, told us: “We’re so pleased that Keiran won the competition – it’s a credit to his own hard work as well as the efforts that we all make behind the scenes to mentor, encourage and inspire all of our students.

“Colleges don’t have big budgets, so the new Unox oven being installed is a real luxury for us – but it’s also important that students have the chance to be exposed to the latest technology and the sort of equipment they will be seeing in the workplace.

“We think Keiran has the potential to go a long way in this industry and we wish him well. The Combi-Guru challenge has been a great project, and Keiran’s exposure to the finals, the culture and the expertise he saw in Italy is a real money can’t buy opportunity.”

Also partnering with Unox, as part of the Combi-Guru challenge was industry not-for-profit organisation, The Burnt Chef Project.

Representatives of the mental health movement joined the finalists in Italy and helped highlight all the ways that young people entering the industry can work hard, enjoy their progression and all whilst staying fit and well.

Reflecting on the campaign overall, Scott Duncan, managing director at Unox UK, said: “It’s been a genuine privilege to be involved with so many aspiring young chefs as part of the Combi-Guru challenge this year.

“To see the culinary stars of the future, as well as working closely with colleges across the UK makes me feel really upbeat about the future of the sector. We’re delighted to support the winning college with its new oven and hope that it will help the next generation of students to push the boundaries further still.

“Unox is committed to the positive future of the hospitality industry and working with The Burnt Chef Project helped reinforce that mental health and well-being must sit alongside success and aspiration.”

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2 Comments for Harlow College student wins top catering prize in Italy:

Kim Oconnor
2023-06-29 09:38:30

Well done, Andy s very proud.

Joan Cook
2023-06-29 14:50:33

Well done! You have a very lucky family!😁

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