Students develop out-of-this-world recipes for MARS

May 2018

A group of Culinary Arts Management, Food and Nutrition and Bakery and Patisserie Technology students have been enlisted by major food company MARS to come up with creative recipes using some of the company’s most popular food products.

In a project conducted over eight weeks, students were required to develop a number of sweet and savoury dishes using MARS convenience food. Starting with a base of anything from microwaveable rice to pasta sauce, dishes had to be a combination of healthy, affordable and easy.

Testing the products were MARS scientific and regulatory affairs manager, Fiona Fernandez, and global systems and nutrition scientist Melanie Pitout. With their favourite dishes set to go on MARS Global Foods website, the pressure was on to find recipes that would not only appeal to customers but would impress the experts, too.

“There were no specific requirements as such,” said Fiona, whose own background is in nutrition. “We just wanted students to develop recipes with health and value for money in mind. We never could have expected they would fulfil the brief so amazingly well.”

Focusing on current trends in the food market, including the rise in restricted diets such as veganism, keto and gluten free, top dishes included a dairy-free chocolate cake using ground Uncle Ben’s microwaveable rice, a meat-free aubergine moussaka made with white Dolmio sauce, a vegan chickpea salad with quinoa and beetroot, and even a strawberry and tomato breakfast yoghurt using Seeds of Change pasta sauce.

Commitment to the cause

Bakery student Lara Scott, who stunned Fiona and Melanie with a show-stopping dairy free chocolate tart, decided to go vegan for a week to help truly understand what those with animal-free diets would yearn for most.

“While I actually really enjoyed lots of the savoury dishes I found, I ended up craving desserts,” said Lara, who devised a total of six different vegan sweets exclusively for MARS. “While it was a challenge, my final recipes are something I’d eat in place of the real thing, so hopefully it would really appeal to those with vegetarian and vegan diets.”

Others, like Culinary Arts Management student Fatma Oztunch, took inspiration from their home countries to come up with new, unusual uses for some of the nation’s favourite convenience foods. Hailing from Cyprus, Fatma used two different kinds of rice to produce a rice soup, a Turkish-Cypriot speciality, and a Cypriot rice pudding made with honey.

“It’s been fantastic to see students from CAM, AFN and Bakery courses working so well with each other on this project,” said Culinary Arts Management lecturer Michael Edwards. “Everyone has worked on this in their own time – and that passion and dedication has really shown through in their recipes. Both Fiona and Melanie were very impressed with everyone’s work.” 

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