The Chefs’ Forum CPD Conference Goes Completely Online

The Chefs' Forum CPD

In a change to the billed CPD Conference 2021 to be broadcasted live from West London College, The Chefs’ Forum had to quickly pivot to take the event completely online as the country was put into lockdown measures once more.

The Chefs’ Forum is delighted to welcome Neil Rippington, former Dean of the College of Food at University College Birmingham, on board to develop our educational offer and grow the estate of Chefs’ Forum Academies currently running in accredited colleges all over the UK, as well as offering hospitality and catering educators the opportunity to participate in regular CPD events throughout the year.

Six fantastic masterclasses have taken place last week, with another six set for Thursday and Friday this week.

Catherine Farinha of The Chefs’ Forum said,

“CPD is an unbelievably important focus and this is evident in the fantastic take-up of the event by ninety-five college lecturers across 17 catering Colleges in the UK and Ireland!

 Research indicates that learning new skills increases job satisfaction and the significance of CPD is that every piece of development enhances a chef’s CV and value. CPD can lead to new opportunities, support career progression and provide the confidence to take on more senior roles. This also applies to all other positions throughout hospitality.

With this in mind, Neil and I have put together a programme of events where industry leaders and high quality, artisan suppliers can discuss both business and development in a way that colleges can commence the development of innovative and highly relevant curriculum content. The programme, spread over last week and this, is providing a mix of interactive masterclasses, blended with sessions to explore the hottest topics impacting the success of students as they enter the industry. It aims to provide the essential link between suppliers and producers with industry specialists and hospitality educators.”

Jamie Houghton, pastry sous chef to Benoit Blin at Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons kicked-off the proceedings last Thursday with a fascinating sugar demonstration in which he recreated a replica ‘world-cup’ ribbon. This was streamed live from the unfortunately unoccupied kitchens of his iconic workplace in Oxfordshire.  Jamie showed the delegates a wonderful film from the ‘Coupe du Monde de la Pâtisserie’ final 2019, which was a noteworthy reminder of Jamie winning the prize for the best piece of sugar work in the entire competition.

Next was an insightful session featuring Masterchef 2020 finalist Philli Armitage-Mattin and industry icon, Chris Galvin, discussing the need to teach business acumen and appreciation to hospitality and catering students from grass roots. The conference was overwhelming in its’ support of developing students with the wider skills and knowledge needed to thrive and succeed in an exciting, but competitive and challenging industry, or to perhaps own their businesses one day.

The third session was a fabulous introspective into the career development story of Peter Avis, General Manager at Galvin at Windows.  Peter gave a fantastic insight into his journey, from pot wash to heading up the operation in an iconic Michelin-starred restaurant.

Delegates agreed that we need to do more to offer continual professional development to front of house professionals. This is exactly what The Chefs’ Forum plans to do going forward, including full day events across a whole range of disciplines to meet the needs of front of house professionals, as well as the chefs of course! We will also return to our regular visits to suppliers alongside study tours and butchery masterclasses, once restrictions are lifted.

Last Friday’s line-up comprised of a talk on sustainability by Deri Reed, Sustainable Restaurant Association’s Chef of the Year 2020. Deri walked us through his crowd-funded restaurant opening of his wholly sustainable ‘’The Warren’ in Camarthen, where he funded the opening by encouraging customers to forward-pay for meals and experiences.

The delegates also enjoyed a fantastic presentation on blended learning, delivered by educational expert and our conference host, Neil. Neil divided delegates into virtual rooms to discuss the trials and tribulations of teaching students online, sharing best practice and their personal experiences.  Headline Sponsor, International Culinary Studio, also presented a blended-learning solution via their virtual learner management system. The platform has been approved by City & Guilds in New Zealand, allowing students to submit work for assessment and manage their portfolio to achieve their qualification. This presents a fantastic opportunity for UK providers to embrace this technology and develop a tailored blended learning programme to suit their bespoke delivery requirements.

Neil added,

 “The past week has shown us that we absolutely have the right people in place to develop something special for the future of students and the industry they are passionate to thrive in. There are great career opportunities for people entering the industry but the skills, knowledge and understanding needed for sustainable success requires more than the creation of aesthetically pleasing dishes presented on cool and trendy tableware. All of the aspects considered in this CPD conference, including high quality, sustainable supply, good business acumen, a great skills-set and a passion for the industry provide a solid foundation for an exciting future.”

I want to say a huge thank you to all the guest speakers who have taken part so far and I am very much looking forward to another week of compelling, interactive world-class demos and masterclasses.”

We are planning further sessions to explore blended learning approaches and resources to enable  educators to share and learn from their peers in other colleges as well as receiving more in-depth tutorials from Neil, as required.  For information, Neil has become somewhat of an expert in the practice of virtual learning and is currently working with Harvard University, USA, to deliver a pioneering programme in Culinary Psychology.

Last week’s sessions were rounded-off with a sensational patisserie demonstration by Movenpick Dessert Chef of the Year, Biju Joshwa. The delegates were mesmerised by Biju’s talent as he created a Brio-Mac-Cookie, a brioche bun filled with gooey ganache loveliness and topped with a Nutcellars’ macadamia nut and milk chocolate cookie!

Checkout Biju’s recipe HERE

Denise Charles, Head of Curriculum for Service Industries at West London College concluded

“We were very much looking forward to broadcasting The Chefs’ Forum’s CPD Conference from our college training kitchens to showcase our facility to other UK Colleges.  Sadly, restrictions tightening meant that we could no longer invite the guest speakers onto campus.  All wasn’t lost as my team and I were able to join the conference via Zoom and it worked perfectly; we all benefited from excellent CPD sessions that were very interesting and engaging. 

This has shown me that I can fulfil my CPD obligations for both my team and I in this format now and in the future and I think it’s great to see how many people can be linked-up from around the world on one call. 

Blended learning was of specific interest to m, for we as a college have been running digital pathway training over the past month, where teaching staff are shown various online delivery methods as part of the new normal in the way we deliver distance learning.

As a result of Neil Rippington’s blended learning masterclass, I have learnt how to organise ‘breakout rooms’ on Zoom and am using them for my students in a lecture this week to enable them to do customer/server interaction roleplay in pairs!

I have added my hours spent on the conference to my CPD log and have asked my staff to do the same.  We are very much looking this week’s sessions and receiving our digital certificates from The Chefs’ Forum at the end of the conference to verify our Industry CPD hours for the awarding body”

Seventeen colleges and ninety-five delegates registered to take part in the conference, originally planned to be streamed online from the college kitchens, that has now to take a different tack.

The event, aimed primarily at college lecturers and educators, is taking place over two weeks with the second half of the event taking place on Thursday and Friday this week.

Delegates can look forward to an action-packed, two-day event with six hours of compelling and innovative masterclasses and demonstrations including a session with Hayden Groves and Neil analysing cookery from an industry and educational perspective, honey tasting with Bermondsey Street Bees and a live venison butchery from the Curtis Pitts larder!

Koppert Cress will also be giving a ‘Cressperience’ of their microgreens and microherbs and Andrew Emmott will talk about the provenance of macadamia nuts from Milawi and the Neno Macadamia Trust he set up to support smallholder farmers.

Samples and goodies have been sent out to the delegates, so they can try the demo recipes themselves.

For more information on this or future CPD events, please email