The leading professional membership body for in-house caterers in higher and further education awarded top marks to Hull after bringing its annual conference to the city for the first time.
The University Caterers Organisation (TUCO) brought more than 400 delegates to the city including representatives from universities across the UK and some of their key suppliers.
The University of Hull was the official host venue for the TUCO Conference 2018 and Mark Mullaney, Assistant Director, Campus and Accommodation Services at the University, said the strength of partnerships was a key factor in attracting the event to the region.
He said: “We are members of TUCO. You have to bid to host the national conference and we expressed an interest, as did other venues. The key factors are the recognition that we have had, the standard of accommodation and catering and what we were able to offer with our partners in the city – the hotels and The Deep.
“The people who attended are very senior – director, assistant director or executive from universities all over the UK as well as suppliers who are highly experienced in their fields of work. Their expectations are first class food and beverages.”
The highest standards were set from the start, with delegates reporting an exceptional opening night of the conference, and with a line-up which included Sky News Sunrise presented Stephen Dixon as host and familiar face Alan Johnson, former Home Secretary and MP for Hull West and Hessle and now a successful author, as one of the speakers.
Delegates praised all aspects of the event with Matt White, Chair of TUCO, writing in the organisation’s newsletter: “We topped the barometer at the University of Hull and I think we smashed the barometer for having the best TUCO Conference to date too.
“From a rewind back to the 80s for our opening evening event to an enlightening programme of conference speakers, a brilliant exhibition featuring so many of our suppliers, and finishing with the best food we could have asked for at the gala diner, the conference has been a huge success.”
Activities included wine and beer tasting sessions, a visit to Pipers Crisps and a social evening at The Deep which was described by one delegate as “dinner under the sea”.
Mike Haslin, Chief Executive Officer of TUCO, said: “At TUCO, we aim to embed sustainability within all functions of the business. After visiting The Deep, we were delighted to find a venue that supports our sustainability agenda. It was the perfect opportunity to host one of our evenings there during our annual TUCO Conference 2018.
“Following through with our sustainability visions and values, we decided to have on the evening menu a classic fish and chips, requesting to have only MSC certified fish and plant-based protein served. During that evening, the food was served promptly and was of a high standard. Even the packaging that the food was served in was carefully considered to meet our sustainability requirements.
“The team at The Deep were very supportive with our menu requests and gave us ample alternatives to taste before creating the final menu. All staff were very helpful in preparing and executing the event. As a result of this, we have received some very positive feedback from the attendees.”
Mark added: “We have held a number of events at The Deep since it opened and we work very closely with them and try to promote each other. It was key that we were able to deliver a first-class service, and we received excellent feedback. The Deep was the sort of alternative venue that they haven’t had before. To look at The Deep as an attraction is one thing but to actually have an event there is something else!”
Freya Cross, Business and Corporate Manager at The Deep, said: “It was a bespoke menu and we discussed the food in detail even down to trying five different types of chip! What was really good about the whole event was that it was totally in line with our own environmental agenda.
“It was great working so closely with the University of Hull, amalgamating our teams to work side by side, working closely with their chefs and drawing in the extensive expertise of TUCO to deliver a sustainable event.”
The film of the conference can be viewed here: