New City College Student chef wins culinary competition

Chef Sarah Morton is from Islington and studied cooking in Hackney.

Chef Sarah Morton is from Islington and studied cooking in Hackney. - Credit: Nestlé Torque d'Or

An Islington chef, who honed her craft in Hackney, has won the prestigious Nestlé Professional Toque d'Or recipe competition. 

Islington resident Sarah Morton was a student at New City College's Hackney campus. She was chosen as one of four champions out of thousands of entrants.

Following a gruelling week of challenges at food giant Nestlé's head quarters, Sarah claimed the top spot as the best back of house student - one of four categories.

Adult student chef Sarah said the win was a "great way to finish her level three qualification in professional cookery", adding : "I really didn't go into the competition expecting to win and I just thought it would be a good opportunity to learn and grow, so to actually win feels quite surreal."

The competition launched in 1989 to inspire and provide opportunities for people in the hospitality industry. 

Entrants were tested in practical, service-based and business focuses tasks which included chefs expressing a sustainable dish in writing, so that it could be included in the first ever Toque d'Or recipe book called Taste the Future.  

The finalists had to write a biography about themselves and their culinary journey so far, as well as explaining their food in detail and the steps required to recreate their dishes.

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Julie Jones, 2008 Toque d'Or winner and author, said: "Sarah added humour, nostalgia. Her personality shone from the page, she went the extra mile and it just came across so well." 

The final challenge of the week was to create four plates of both a main course and dessert in just three and a half hours. 

Each finalist chef was paired with front of house finalist, who had their own drinks challenge to complete, as well as serving the food. 

Sarah's main course of mackerel and rhubarb, was inspired by her childhood, fishing for mackerel with her dad on Dover pier and all the rhubarb in the family garden. The chef admits it is not a traditional pairing but wanted to use British ingredients that work well together to create her dish.  

One of Sarah Morton's winning dishes, Mackerel and Rhubarb. 

One of Sarah Morton's winning dishes included a pan-fried mackerel with an herb crumb, mackerel ceviche, pickled rhubarb, rhubarb puree, potato, apple and chive salad, chive oil and cucumber ribbons. - Credit: Nestlé Torque d'Or

Sarah's dessert was a crème fraîche panna cotta with strawberry consommé, roasted strawberries with black pepper, honeycomb, a strawberry tuille and a strawberry and mint salad. 

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