Inspiration for Chef Students Working with The Chefs’ Forum Academy

A recent interview with Tracy Round-Turner, Assistant Principal at West London College highlighted how working with The Chefs’ Forum Academy was helping students to make the right career choices and find inspiration from the professional chefs.

Tracy told The Chefs’ Forum

“We’re really grateful to The Chefs’ Forum. The hospitality sector has been severely hit. We’re so grateful that these leading chefs are still able to give up their time to support our students.

“The staff, as well, have gained so much from them. From the online quizzes and the masterclasses as well. Where our learners would normally go out on work experience now they are not able to do that so much but they are still getting that clear line of sight to industry professionals. They are getting all that experience working with these inspiring people which is raising their aspiration. We are so grateful to The Chefs’ Forum Academy for keeping it going.

“Learners are really engaged when it’s an industry professional just to think that one day they could be in that position. The Q & A is so valuable because it is so different to just watching a film. Being able to interact with the chef on the other side just enriches it so much more.

“Learners also get an insight into kitchens that they would never visit or dream that they could look like that. The big thing for us at West London College is that we have a variety of learners who come from very different backgrounds. Many of these would never get to go out and eat in the sort of exclusive establishments the college are working with, never mind see in the kitchens, and experience what is it is like to be back of house working on these incredible dishes – Not many people would.”

Working with The Chefs’ Forum Academy is showing the students that these fantastic hotels and restaurants are absolutely accessible to them, and that they are wholeheartedly supporting the college. There is a constant need for new talent in their busy kitchens.  This talent will come from our catering colleges, so bridging the gap between education and industry is perpetually important and the main ethos of The Chefs’ Forum Academy.

On meeting the chefs in their usual learning environment, the students are reassured that the possibility of gaining employment in some of London’s leading establishments is a real one.  They already have an ‘in’ to a first line of enquiry, their talent and determination will be recognized and the whole application process will be far less daunting.

The Chefs’ Forum is delighted that so many top London hospitality employers are backing The Chefs’ Forum Academy and forging links with the college that will pave the way for excellent work experience opportunities once restrictions are lifted.

Tracy continued

“The students get a glimpse of a real kitchen which is very different than the training kitchens we have here at the college. They see the proper pressure and all the equipment they use.

“We really saw that last year when we had the opportunity to take a group of students to The Dorchester. They worked on all these canapés and got to go out amongst all the guests at the event and hearing the students feedback afterwards at that event: they were just standing a mile high, their feet were floating way above the ground. It was an experience that they will never gain until they are working in that environment and to have that opportunity was a great learning curve for them.

The Chefs’ Forum Academy has given our learners a chance to watch and interact with industry professionals talking about different sectors. That really helps them make informed choices about the future direction they might go in.”

It is imperative that the students see for themselves the diversity of a career in hospitality and catering, the opportunities it can present and what can be achieved with hard work and determination.  Working with such esteemed chefs and employers is so valuable for everyone concerned.  The Chefs’ Forum delighted to be running The Chefs’ Forum Academy at West London College for a second year.  The calibre of chefs and the exclusive operations supporting the initiative is simply top drawer.

Tom Booton, Head Chef at The Grill at The Dorchester said

“It is great to see The Chefs’ Forum continuing to inspire young chefs with virtual masterclasses while restrictions remain in place.  I created a cod dish with carrot, capers and Brazil nuts.  The students were fantastic when they came here to work with us in the kitchens and front of house at the launch of The Chefs’ Forum Academy for West London College here at The Dorchester last year.”

“I was very cocky at school, but I got sent to a fantastic restaurant on the Essex border called Le Talbooth, run by fantastic Milsom family.  I started doing Friday, Saturday and Sunday after school.  I did my work experience there and just kept working.  I stayed there for four years and learnt the basics there.  I then went to France, America and back to London. I worked in many top kitchens and now I’m at The Dorchester where I am Head Chef at The Grill.  We are now back and running after Lockdown.”

He continued, if he were to give any advice to a young chef, he’d say

“Pride, energy, drive and stamina are the four things you need to succeed in this industry.  I’m not going to lie, it’s hard work – It’s blood, sweat and tears.  However, if you want to succeed in this industry, it will give you anything you want.  Thirteen years ago, when I started cooking, I didn’t think that I was going to be the Head Chef at one of the best hotels in the world…but it has kind of happened overnight and very quickly.  You never know who you’re cooking for and that one Hotel Manager I cooked for at The Westbury under Alyn Williams, managed to get me a job here at The Dorchester.  Everyone you meet, everyone you talk to, treat them with the utmost respect and if you really work hard and have it in your heart, it will pay off!”

Many chefs say tell The Chefs’ Forum that they would love to have had such a valuable resource when they were training.  We will continue to enrich the learning of students while restrictions remain in place.

Chefs wishing to get involved in teaching in The Chefs’ Forum Academy and inspiring the next generation should contact

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