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Devon college students get a taste of hospitality from top chefs

Award-winning chefs at Bovey Castle teamed up with cooks of the future from two Devon colleges for a special event providing students with a taste of the hospitality industry.

Bovey Castle, in Dartmoor, welcomed more than 20 students from South Devon College and Exeter College to produce a four-course lunch served to 80 lucky guests.

Students cooked alongside Bovey Castle Executive Head Chef Mark Budd as well as four head chefs from the hotel’s sister restaurants within The Eden Hotel Collection, which included Tim Jenkins from Brockencote Hall Hotel, Keiron Stevens from Mallory Court Hotel and Spa, Sai Nathan from The Arden and Abhijeet Dasalkar from The Greenway Hotel and Spa.

The event was hosted by The Chefs’ Forum which connects some of the UK’s finest culinary artists with colleges across the country to inspire the next generation, and celebrated the launch of The Chefs’ Knowledge in Devon – a new book of advice and dishes that are necessary for young chefs to learn at the beginning of their career.

While some students formed part of the front of house team, others helped to cook a menu consisting of a welcome drink and canapes, followed by a starter, fish course, main course and a dessert.

The starter consisted of lamb cutlet, sorrel, Bovey Castle-foraged greens, wild nettle vinaigrette and fermented tomato salsa, while the fish course featured roasted fillet of seabream, braised salsify and white bean truffle broth.

The main course was fillet of beef, wild mushroom, fondant potatoes, Armagnac sauce, Jerusalem artichoke and sunchoke and horseradish ferment, followed by a dessert of pumpkin cheesecake, muesli biscuit and maple ice cream.

Ingredients were sponsored by Aussie Beef & Lamb, Dole Foodservice, Saucery and The Peach, while wine to accompany the menu was sponsored by Brown Brothers.

The menu also utilised flora from the hotel’s 275-acre estate, drafting in a team of expert foragers from nutritionists The Peach to harvest seasonal produce.

Sorrel leaves, nettle leaves and hogweed seeds were then dehydrated in an Excalibur dehydrator provided by Chefs’ Forum sponsor Mitchell & Cooper and turned into a powder to create a tomato salsa with sorrel and nettle fermentation for Mark Budd and Tim Jenkins to showcase to chefs in their ingenious dishes.

Mark said: “We were delighted to support and coach these young chefs and were thoroughly impressed by their skills and enthusiasm.

“We look forward to following their careers and maybe one day have the opportunity to welcome them to The Eden Hotel Collection.”

Jayne O’Malley, Group Operations Director at the award-winning Eden Hotel Collection, added:

“Events like this are a fantastic opportunity to provide young people with valuable insights into the hospitality sector and what life is like in a working kitchen and front of house.

“We want to inspire the next generation and give them confidence, and the feedback we have received has shown this event has done just that.”

Catherine Farinha, Director of The Chefs’ Forum, said:

“What an event! Over the years we’ve put on some amazing events but this has to be up there with the best of them and as our last Chefs’ Lunch of 2023, we’re really seeing the year out with a bang.

“The four courses really showcased the talent within The Eden Hotel Collection and all of the guests were impressed with the quality on show. For the local students, it was an incredible opportunity to work alongside these brilliant chefs.”

Aleesah Moulton, level 2 student at Exeter College who won back of house star of the day and a copy of The Chefs’ Knowledge, said:

“This was my second time working at a Chefs’ Forum event, it was a great opportunity to work a top kitchen with some of the best chefs in the industry.

“I gained a great deal of experience and advice from all the chefs. It was an honor to win back of house star of the day, I look forward to reading and using The Chefs’ Knowledge throughout my career.”

Freda Francis, level 2 student at South Devon College who won front of house star of the day and a copy of The Chefs’ Knowledge, said:

“We felt good about today, and not nervous anymore.

“It’s been nice to work in a professional environment. The atmosphere was warm and welcoming, not pressured, and the afternoon just flowed. We learnt new skills and were made to feel at ease.”

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