History, tales and fine dining – When you hear the term college food, the first thing which springs to mind is long tables, queues and mass production of tasteless food. This might have been the case before the Jamie Oliver revolution, but a lot has changed since then. Especially the food at the Cambridge Colleges is a real treat, and it’s actually a fantastic fine dining experience.
Colleges and schools have taken Jamie Oliver’s criticism on board and are working on a tastier and healthier offering for their students. However, the food served in the Halls and historic rooms at Cambridge Colleges have always been excellent and takes college food to a completely different level.
The historic colleges of Cambridge have a rich food history and an impressive wine collection and have some of the best chefs working for them, who compete every year in the Cambridge Culinary Competition in eight individual food classes.
Following the success of the 2011 event, the event is back every year with a new format and back at the fantastic Cambridge Regional College venue. With all three competitions taking place on the same day, at the same site and with all our exhibitors and sponsors working with them on the day, the event always promises to be a fantastic one for everybody involved – organisers, competitors, sponsors and attendees!
Tradition of the colleges
The food traditions of the Cambridge Colleges are fascinating. Every college has its own Formal Hall ( formal dinner in the main Hall) for which everybody needs to be formally dressed and don’t be late or go for a call of nature during a Formal Hall as there will be no food for you anymore!
Kings College has the largest Hall of the Cambridge Colleges, and they have various Formal Halls during the year. At St. Johns, you are very fortunate as the head of catering was previous a holder of a Michelin Star. At Corpus Christi, it is on Friday and Sundays. At Sidney Sussex, Formal Hall is 3 times per week on Wednesday, Friday and Sunday, and the graduates have their own on Tuesday and Thursday.
Christ College is quite an exception as MAs and PhDs, and other higher degree graduates are entitled to dine with the Fellows up to ten times per academic year. However, only 6 students maximum per session.
The live competition
This competition takes place in the state-of-the-art kitchens at the Cambridge Regional College. Attendees and college supporters will see all the action via the large screens in the restaurant. All competitors will have rehearsed their dishes numerous times before the event. With the clock ticking and their every move being scrutinised by the judges, the pressure will be on, and everyone will feel the tension. The standard of the events is always superb, and every year everybody is looking forward to seeing just how high the bar can be raised.
The Salon Culinaire
This competition itself is a fabulous visual feast! Competitors in this event present their dishes ready for the judges’ critical eye already plated. The range of classes available are from canapés to afternoon teas- ensures many dishes to see and appreciate.
The classes for the Salon Culinaire are:
Open Restaurant Plates Starters, Open Restaurant Plates Main Course, Open Restaurant Plates Sweet, Open Petit Fours, Junior 3 Course Gourmet Meal.