Top Chefs Showcase Surf & Turf with Highbury College Students

The Chefs’ Forum held a lunch at Highbury College on the 17th November 2014 to celebrate a third successful year of twenty eight chef events opening communication channels between education and industry throughout the South of the UK.  Matt Budden, Marriott Chef of the Year and Executive Chef at The Highcliff Marriott teamed up with Paul Watts of Meon Valley Marriott to cook a stunning surf and turf lunch with the students for fifty top chefs.

Highbury College has a great training facility in The Chimes, a beautifully designed city-centre restaurant open to the public for lunch daily, also hosting regular themed dinners.

A reception of Nyetimber English Sparkling wine was enjoyed by guests in advance of a student learning trip to see its Sussex vineyards early next year.- This will be a great opportunity for the learners to see grand marque standard sparkling wine on UK soil.  Koppert Cress has also offered to host students at its growing plant in the Netherlands and Walter Rose a butchery masterclass at its farm.

L-R in Chef Whites Robert, Paul and Matt with StudentsHead of Department Travel, Hospitality and Catering Robert Strachan stated: “These offers of curriculum enrichment opportunities are music to my ears, it is brilliant that we have been able to meet such fantastic producers and suppliers through The Chefs’ Forum – We will definitely make these excursions happen as the students will greatly benefit from these ‘money can’t buy experiences!”

Top chefs from across Dorset and Hampshire were extremely impressed with the standard of cooking and front of house service and very much enjoyed their fabulous lunch consisting of a two-course course meal showcasing Dorset Scallops and finest sirloin supplied by Samways Fish and Walter Rose Butchers respectively.

Whilst the chefs and students were busy putting the finishing touches to the delicious lunch, Mark Machin from Samways and Jack Cook from Walter Rose presented various ways to cook with cuttlefish and butchery techniques for a whole rump of beef to minimise waste.

Chefs’ Forum sponsors kindly donated all ingredients for the lunch which facilitated the creation of a fabulous menu :

The Oxford Charcoal Company Smoked Samways Scallops with Repertoire Ras el Hanout Spice, Roasted Figs, Honey and Princesse D’Isenbourg Saffron Vinaigrette

Walter Rose Roast Sirloin of Maple Glazed West Country Beef, Horseradish Remoulade, Celeriac, Beetroot, Wild Mushrooms and Watercress

Fresh ‘Comins Tea’ Green Tea & Sesame Madeleines served with Comins Tea

All fruit and vegetables where supplied by Harvest Fine Foods

It is these sponsors who facilitate the existence of The Chefs’ Forum in driving down the food cost through donation of ingredients to the college in staging events like this.  At the same time, suppliers’ fine ingredients are showcased to an audience of top chefs and tomorrow’s chefs.

The lunch was expertly served by first year front of house students who volunteered to take part in the event.

Robert continued: “We as a College are looking to improve our links with employers in the catering industry and The Chefs’ Forum is a perfect vehicle to do this.  We look forward to quarterly events where we can keep in touch with industry and improved communication with professional kitchens on a local level”.

After lunch, Catherine Farinha presented The Chefs’ Forum to the chefs and urged them work more closely with the college in performing cookery demonstrations and offering curriculum enrichment opportunities to its students.

Group ShotChef Paul Watts, Head Chef at Meon Valley Marriott, a large local employer added: “Forging links between the colleges, apprentices, leading chefs and high quality suppliers is a key way for the industry to grow and get stronger. It will be a great opportunity to work more closely with Robert, the other forum members and the colleges.”

The Chefs’ Forum launched three years ago in November 2011 and has since expanded to include highly accredited  chefs, catering colleges and top suppliers from London to Cornwall and over to Kent.

Catherine Farinha, Founder of The Chefs’ Forum and event organiser stated: “We have forged valuable links between the catering colleges and top chefs across the country and it is wonderful to have staged such a well-received event at Highbury College.  Today has shown that communication between education and industry can be effortless and this will lead to the next generation of top chefs and Front of House professionals learning from the very best in the business”.

The Chefs’ Forum plans to roll out to Wales in spring 2015 working with top chefs and suppliers to facilitate the long anticipated launch – Exciting times!