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University chef's amuse bouche win

University Chefs

Clare Ringrose, Darren Edwards, Julie Frost and Peter Griffiths MBE, President of the British Culinary Federation, at the TUCO Awards presentation

Three of the University's top chefs recently won an award for culinary excellence in Blackpool at a competition involving 17 universities from around the country.

The competition was run by The Universities Catering Organisation (TUCO) of which the University of Reading is a member and our Head of Catering Matthew White is the southern regional chair. The team consisted of Julie Frost (Executive Head Chef), Darren Edwards (Central Kitchen Chef Manager) and Clare Ringrose (Central Kitchen Chef).

The TUCO chef's team challenge involves teams of three chefs who must produce four courses in two hours. Julie made the amuse bouche, which was a smoked paprika and cauliflower soup, and the starter course of salmon mi cuit with spiced lentils and rhubarb caviar. Darren cooked the main course of best end of lamb with a tapenade crust, potato maxim and lamb's kidney ragout, whilst Clare was responsible for the dessert course of chocolate brownie with pear.

Teams were judged not just on the end product, but also the menu, recipes and how they conducted themselves during the cook off. The judges were of a very high standard and included Nigel Haworth, a Michelin starred chef who has appeared on programme such as the Great British Menu.

Julie Frost, Executive Head Chef, said: "There were only ten awards and as newcomers this year we weren't sure of any success, so you can imagine how happy we were to win the award for Highly Commended Amuse Bouche. This was great not just for the team involved, but it really helps to boost our profile within the TUCO organisation and with our peers in other universities.

"I would personally like to thank both Darren and Clare for all their hard work and commitment in representing Reading at this event, competing with both professionalism and passion to produce food at a really high standard."

Make your own award-winning smoked paprika and cauliflower soup

Serves 4 - 6

  • 1 cauliflower
  • 1 onion
  • 50ml extra virgin rapeseed oil, plus more to drizzle as garnish
  • 10g smoked paprika
  • 15g plain flour
  • 10g vegetable boullion
  • 500ml water
  • 300ml double cream
  • 1 lemon
  • 50g pistachio nuts
  • Salt and pepper


  1. Heat the oil in a pan. Add the diced onion and sweat until the onion is soft.
  2. Remove the outer leaves and core from the cauliflower and chop it into small pieces.
  3. Add the cauliflower to the onion and cook it on a low heat for a couple of minutes.
  4. Add the paprika and flour to the pan and stir till all is coated.
  5. Pour in the water and vegetable boullion, stir and cook on a medium heat until the cauliflower is completely cooked and soft.
  6. Place the soup in a liquidizer or blender and blend.
  7. Add the double cream and the juice of half the lemon.
  8. Once completely smooth pass through a sieve into a clean pan, adjust the seasoning with salt, pepper and more lemon juice if required. Warm the soup back up before serving.
  9. Peel the pistachio nuts and place in a pan of boiling water for 1 minute. Drain and place in a clean tea towel. Gently rub them in the towel to remove the skins. Place them in a dry frying pan until toasted. Chop finely.
  10. To serve. Place the soup in a bowl, add a swirl of rapeseed oil and sprinkle with the chopped pistachio nuts.

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