The five grand finalists in the annual Nestlé Toque d'Or student catering competition - now in its 23rd year - have been named after triumphing in the regional heats between 12 college teams.
Student teams from University College Birmingham, Blackpool and the Fylde College, Belfast Metropolitan College, Grimsby Institute of Further Education and Colchester Institute will now undergo two months of mentoring from the Restaurant Association before competing for the grand prize at the BBC Summer Good Food Show, which runs from 15 to 19 June at the Birmingham NEC.
Neil Stephens, managing director of competition organiser Nestlé Professional, is predicting the "most competitive and interesting Grand Finals" to date after the regional heats showcased "some of the most exciting dishes to be prepared in the history of the competition".
Each lunchtime at the show, a different team of six students - four cooks and two front of house - will serve up a three-course menu in the 100-seat restaurant.
Their task is to "devise a model for a contemporary and unique dining environment, addressing the demands of today's diners" with the focus on health, seasonality, provenance and sustainability.
The winning team - to be announced at a Gala Awards Lunch in London in June - will benefit from a European study tour and catering equipment worth £4,000 for their college, while the runners-up will be consoled with £2,000-worth of equipment.
All regional finalists were rewarded with a Toque d'Or uniform and vouchers to spend at E Russum & Sons.
By Angela Frewin
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