The Chefs’ Forum Showcases Careers at The Dorchester in Virtual Event

The Chefs’ Forum was honoured to be asked by the ‘People of The Dorchester’ to stage a virtual event to showcase fantastic career opportunities throughout The Dorchester Collection.  The two-hour event saw the culinary, front of house, floristry and housekeeping departments give a series of talks and demonstrations providing UK college students with a glimpse of what it would be like to work at The Dorchester, 45 Park Lane and Coworth Park in Ascot.

The event started at 11am today (20) April, with a welcome speech by The Dorchester’s Executive Chef Mario Perera, Talent & Culture Manager Alice Merry and Catherine Farinha, Founder of The Chefs’ Forum. In attendance, the 140 students from five catering colleges across the country were introduced to the event and what to expect from the demonstrations and talks which were to follow.

First up was Michelin-starred Adam Smith, Executive Chef at Coworth Park who set up cameras in his kitchen to create a dish of Caviar Tart with Portland Crab, Yuzu and Sour Cream.  The event took place on Zoom, so the students were able to see Adam create the dish live and were able to interact with the chat function, asking questions and showing their reactions to the session.

Adam has held a Michelin star for four years and really enjoys working at such a prestigious property.  When asked about his training, he said

“I fell in love with the kitchen ages just 13, when I took a part-time job as a pot was at a local restaurant in Birmingham.  After that I enrolled on course in Professional Cookery at University College Birmingham for a year, before joining The Ritz in London.  It was at The Ritz that I developed my core professional training and since then I’ve distilled that learning into a passion for creating dishes of simplicity and beauty.  I am so pleased to see so many young people on this call today and I can really say, hand on heart, that there is no better industry in which to work than the Hospitality industry!”

Next up was Mario, assisted by sous-chefs Saravanan and Soham live from The Dorchester kitchens with their dish of Portland Brown Crab, Hand-dived Scallops and Crab Broth.  The students interacted via a poll about the price of scallops with the trio of chefs explaining how to calculate dish costs when pricing a menu. This reinforced the importance of maths and business studies in the professional kitchen and their significance as essential aspects of the curriculum.

Tom Booton followed Mario. However, it was Tom’s turn to deliver his signature menu at the Rooftop Restaurant, the exciting new alfresco dining experience at The Dorchester, so Tom was understandably on duty at the time of the call, with a fully booked 200 covers to cook for. However, Tom pre-recorded a question-and-answer session so that the students could get an insight to Tom’s exciting career and his progression from his school years to Head Chef of The Grill at The Dorchester at such a young age. Tom talked of his training, the influences on his career development and most recently his TV appearance on Saturday Kitchen with Matt Tebbutt and special guest Richard Curtis.

Tom has been cooking elements of his menu on Kamado Joe BBQs, powered by locally sourced Oxford Charcoal. Tom explained that top quality charcoal is considered an ingredient as opposed to a fuel in creating delicious tasting food cooked on live fire.  It also adds an element of theatre for the guests.

During lockdown, The Chefs’ Forum created a library of recipe films to keep students engaged while they couldn’t come into college and Tom prepared a fantastic cod dish with carrot, capers and Brazil nuts. This will be sent to all the colleges to share with the students at a convenient time, take a look here:

The students were then introduced to Lewis Hunter, Deputy Promenade Manager at The Dorchester, who gave a fascinating insight into The Dorchester Afternoon Tea Service.  Lewis talked the students through pricing and how Afternoon Tea has come back into fashion in a big way.  The Dorchester is famed worldwide for its decadent afternoon teas and the 140 students were all entered into a draw to win a Dorchester Afternoon Tea experience for themselves, a course peer and their lecturer as a special treat!

The lucky winners of a work experience and Afternoon Tea at both The Dorchester and Coworth Park will be announced later this week. They can each look forward to a day of work experience at The Dorchester or Coworth Park, culminating in a luxurious afternoon tea which they will help create as part of the day!

The event then went on to showcase the importance of floristry and housekeeping as part of the five-star luxury experience at The Dorchester, with Phil Hammond,  Designer Florist giving a virtual tour of the lobby and promenade areas as well as The Flower Shop with The Dorchester Roses cultivated especially for The Dorchester.  These beautiful Dorchester roses, unique to The Dorchester are available to buy as gifts for contactless delivery on a national level.

Phil said

“We are proud to have the biggest floral displays in London and we are the only UK hotel to have a rose named after our hotel.  If I hear of a bigger hotel display in London, I then make ours even bigger – They are a huge part of the welcome into the hotel and the aroma massively contributes to The Dorchester experience.”

Viktorija Micke, Senior Housekeeper then talked the students through the various roles, opulent suites, departments and duties of the housekeeping team and why perfectly laundered and presented uniform is such an important part of the appearance of the team and the five star feel of The Dorchester.

Alice Merry brought the event to a close with an inspirational talk on how to apply for a job at The Dorchester Collection. Alice reinforced the message to the students that they have every chance of a successful application by demonstrating a positive attitude, work ethic and appetite to learn.

Alice concluded

“Engaging and exciting young people to come into our industry has never been more important.  Through our virtual event we were able to showcase the incredible world of our hotels, where we hope to welcome these students to very soon.”

The event was a huge success and the students were all given a certificate of two hours work experience at The Dorchester as a record of their participation in the event.  This will be a great addition to their educational record.

Neil Rippington, Director of Education at The Chefs’ Forum, concluded by saying

“This was a brilliant event showcasing the broad range of opportunities to work in some of the most famous hotels in the world. The students were given such a valuable insight to the realm of the Dorchester Collection and the truly amazing experiences they provide for their guests. It was a fascinating couple of hours to whet the appetite and ambition of the next generation.”