Takeaway Tom tops the Fakeaway Challenge

Date 27.04.2020

Students were dared to rustle up bogus Big Macs and pretend takeaway pizzas in a mouthwatering cuisine challenge set by the University of Northampton.

The Fakeaway Challenge saw students cook up their very own versions of classic takeaway dishes, with the competition designed to promote the value of home cooking.

Tom Walker scooped the £100 first prize with his home-cooked sweet and sour chicken dish, with other entrants’ creations including veggie burger, chips and carrot bacon; Big Mac in a bowl and crispy baked spicy chicken and chips.

Watch him recreate his dish below.

The challenge was set up after the University’s Financial Guidance team spotted a trend of students spending a large proportion of their money on takeaway and convenience food.

“When checking students’ eligibility for hardship funding, we have to scrutinise their bank statements, and there’s a large number spending their budgets on takeaway services, including the very popular Just Eat,” said Victoria Bull, who is Development Officer in the Financial Guidance team.

“While there’s nothing wrong with the occasional takeaway, buying them regularly will drain your funds and might not be very good for your health.

“If somebody could go without one takeaway a week, they could be saving £20, or £700 over the academic year, which is 35 weeks.”

Victoria added: “Getting into the habit of planning and cooking your own meals can save so much money, and you can ensure you’re in control of the ingredients to come up with healthier food.

“Our Fakeaway Challenge has shown that you can actually come up with some amazing meals, which cost very little and can tasted better than a takeaway.”

First year History student Tom, who comes from Milton Keynes, was delighted to win first prize.

He said: “I don’t necessarily buy ready-made meals, but I’ll occasionally get takeout if I’m feeling lazy or if the uni kitchen gets too crowded.

“I’ve noticed that most of my flatmates eat pre-made meals – some would cook together, but not regularly. I think everyone was a bit protective over their food!”

Tom added: “I learnt to cook mainly by watching online videos. There are dozens of YouTube channels dedicated to cooking, and I usually find it easier watching those than reading a cookbook. I learnt to cook not too long ago to be fair. I’m almost 24 now, so a little bit older than most students, but I was probably around 20 when I learnt – mainly because I had come to the realisation that I was actually an adult now, and was going to be on my own a lot more.

“I think if you’re cooking in order to eat healthier, then you’ll know exactly what’s going into your meals, which is really important if you’re trying to reach certain goals. Cooking can also be really enjoyable, especially if you’re doing it with someone else, it doesn’t always have to be a chore. It’s also quite satisfying to eat afterwards, knowing you put the effort in.”