The Chefs’ Forum Academy Launch at Weston College

On Monday (18) April, top chefs and industry professionals from across the region attended the launch of The Chefs’ Forum Academy at Weston College. ‘Team Lucknam Park’ led by Michelin-starred chef Hywel Jones joined forces with ‘Team Berwick Lodge’ led by Roux Scholar 2013, Paul O’Neill to work with catering students at the college in preparing canapés to showcase their respective menus.

Afternoon Tea Canapes from Team Lucknam ParkThe Chefs’ Forum Founder, Catherine Farinha said: “It was very humbling to see such a show of strength in support for this initiative. Our chef members really want to work with students at Weston College and have demonstrated their commitment to inspiring the next generation in attending The Chefs’ Forum Academy launch”.

The Chefs’ Forum serves to bridge the gap between education and industry, inspiring young chefs and front-of-house professionals.

Level 2 student, Georgia White (18) said: “I felt really inspired working with ‘Team Lucknam Park’ and ‘Team Berwick Lodge’ today and would love to spend some time in the kitchen at both properties learning new skills.  The canapés that both Hywel and Paul created with us were really impressive and I enjoyed every minute of the day”.

The launch of The Chefs’ Forum Academy at Weston College follows five years of very successful quarterly networking events, working with hospitality industry specialists and College students.

Hywel Jones and the studentsThe Chefs’ Forum prides itself on sharing industry knowledge and best practice in catering colleges and professional kitchens throughout the South West, working with top chefs across the UK.

The project will see well-respected industry experts, suppliers and top chefs working with students at the College to impart knowledge on specialist subjects from butchery to pastry, seasonality, Sous Vide, CV skills, world food, game and foraging.

The Chefs’ Forum team of experts will make the students work-ready and student work experience placements will be secured at the best properties and businesses involved in the region including Lucknam Park (Colerne), Berwick Lodge (Bristol), Cliveden House (Taplow), Walter Rose & Son Butchers (Devizes),  Ston Easton Park (Bath), Bar 44 (Cardiff), Total Produce (Bristol) and Easy Jose Coffee (Bath).

Catherine Farinha, Andrew Skinner, Head of Hospitality and Catering at Weston College and Rebecca Lopez (BTech Lecturer) presented plans for The Chefs’ Forum Academy and explained the objectives of the partnership.

Rebecca Lopez explained: “We are working with The Chefs’ Forum to bridge the gap between education and industry.  We don’t always get as much time as we would like to liaise with industry professionals.  Today has seen our students securing work experience with Lucknam Park, Berwick Lodge and The Railway Inn – This is really exciting and exemplifies why we have chosen to launch this initiative this September in line with the new academic year.”

Weston College students also ran front of house, with hospitality and events students offering guests delicious canapés along with welcoming and organising top chefs in attendance.  They also gained valuable work experience in event set-up and management that will contribute towards their course.

Paul O'Neill preparing his demo dishPaul O'Neill Demo DishRoux Scholar Paul O’Neill (Berwick Lodge) and Jack Cook (Walter Rose) teamed-up to perform a demonstration of the relationship between ‘The Butcher and The Chef’ and showcased West End Farm Pork. Jack seam-cut a shoulder of pork to show how to maximise its usage and the chef’s profits.  Paul then made a fabulous dish of secreto (or the secret cut) pork, Jersey Royal potatoes, baby onions and wild garlic.

Lucknam Park HR Manager Nicki Cotton, Berwick Lodge Owner, Sarah Arikan and Craig Taylor from Taylor’s Hospitality Recruitment then presented their thoughts on how to recruit, train and retain good staff and the importance of investing in a strong team.  All three experts will work with students to help them with interview techniques, front of house skills and hotel management.

Hywel Jones and his pastry team from Lucknam Park worked with the students to prepare and serve Michelin-starred afternoon tea to the guests. The students got to try their hand at making colourful macaroons, choux buns and passion fruit mousse.

Matt Peters Demo DishHead Pastry chef, Matt Peters and Chef de Partie Rich Henderson then took to the floor to demonstrate a stunning dish of croustillant of pineapple, macademia streusel, coconut sorbet and pineapple jelly.  Matt explained the meticulous processes involved in achieving Michelin-starred pastry dishes and showcased some of his impressive skills.  He also cited the shortage in pastry chefs and the importance of encouraging young people into the specialism.  He said

“I look forward to imparting some of my knowledge onto learners here at Weston College.  I plan to work with them to show them bakery, chocolate work, Lucknam Park desserts and petit fours”.

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