University College Birmingham and The University Caterers Organisation (TUCO) have teamed up to deliver a day-long practical workshop on creative menu ideas to cater for one of the fastest-growing consumer groups in the UK. TUCO Academy’s UCB Masterclass on Creative Vegan and Vegetarian Cuisine featured a session led by UCB Senior Lecturer Bernard Schumacher and assisted by UCB Professional Cookery student Ciara Appleton.
A vegan herself, Ciara gave a live demonstration and tasting session on cooking her favourite vegan dish – the perfect wild mushroom risotto.
Following that, Ciara judged a freestyle competition challenging participants to design and produce a creative vegan dish in just 45 minutes.
“It’s been a really interesting class,” said Tom Stewart, head chef at Jesus College, Cambridge, and winner of Ciara’s quick-fire culinary contest. “My eyes have been opened to alternative vegan cuisine and we’ve been given some great ideas to take back to work.”
Participants spent much of the day in hands-on experimental sessions and cooking challenges designed to give a firm grounding in all kinds of vegan cookery, from stylish haute cuisine to hearty street food. Top dishes of the day included a sautéed king oyster mushroom scallop starter, vegan KFC (Korean fried cauliflower), and vegan chocolate & exotic fruit ‘sushi’, with pineapple gel and cocoa nib caramel.
The sell-out event was not only a source of menu inspiration to professional chefs at all levels, but also an unmissable culinary training opportunity for those wishing to take part in the Salon Culinaire classes at TUCO competitions this year.
“It was great to see chefs from all over the country coming to UCB to learn more about vegan and vegetarian menu development, especially considering the current market for alternative dietary requirements,” said lecturer Bernard Schumacher.
“Our aim was to give those taking part inspirational food and flavour ideas they could use for a wide range of different target markets. We wanted to show that creating complex, interesting and nutritious vegan dishes is easier than people might think. The event was also a fantastic opportunity to showcase the culinary flair of our student, Ciara, as well as the quality of our specialist training kitchens.”