CATERING staff at a university have won four national awards for excellence in their industry.

Carol Vallejo, head chef at The Hub dining room at the Royal Holloway in Egham, has won the Best Chef award in the annual Cost Sector Catering awards, which recognises top performance in the food service industry. She scored the prize for her commitment to meet the growing demand for vegan and vegetarian meals at her dining room.

David Foad, editor of Cost Sector Catering magazine, who run the awards, said: “The judges were hugely impressed by Carol’s energy and ideas.

“She makes sure her menus, which come with all the excitement of the latest street food trends, still manage to offer students their 5-a-day across a range of meal options. She’s able to do this while also mentoring her catering team through training and competition success.”

Meanwhile, a team in the Founder’s Building dining hall won the gold award in the Cook and Serve Challenge of The University Caterers Organisation awards (TUCO). The winning team consisted of sous chef Gary Smith, chef de partie, Richard Bakaity, and hospitality shift leader Diana Comisescu. Ms Comisescu also won the TUCO’s Best Service award.

The team had to cook and serve a three course meal for four within a 90 minute timescale, which included creating a centre piece for the table, providing wine, and creating menus.

The catering team’s winning menu consisted of: tempura battered jackfruit, with pan-fried vegetables, a samphire salad topped with coconut and lemongrass broth, pan fried chicken wrapped in Parma ham, served with quinoa, glacé vegetables and a chicken reduction, plus a cheese course.

A part-time student bar worker, Media Arts student Jack Wallis, pictured right, also carried off another gold award in the TUCO competition, this time in the Bar Skills category. Mr Wallis was tasked with creating and serving three cocktails of his own invention within five minutes, each of which was inspired by a popular film.

Mr Wallis said: “It was an amazing experience and even more amazing to win.

I’m a bit speechless.

“The pressure was on and it was really exciting to be part of it. This is nothing like any other event.”