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Exeter College’s @thirty-four Restaurant is named AA College Restaurant of the Year


The Exeter College student-run restaurant, @thirty-four is going from strength to strength. Home to the prestigious Michael Caines Academy, which recently celebrated its 10th year, it has been awarded the AA College Restaurant of the Year, the highest accolade a college restaurant can achieve. This news comes after receiving an AA Highly Commended College Rosette earlier this year.

This year’s AA College Restaurant of the Year competition challenged participating college restaurants to design an event celebrating one of three significant milestones in 2023: the 50th Anniversary of the first Concorde pan Atlantic flight, the 75th Anniversary of the founding of the NHS, or the 100th anniversary of Disney Brothers Studios. Students then had to present their ideas to a panel of judges. Exeter College chose to design their event around the 75th anniversary of the NHS.

Andy Doyle, Partnerships Manager at People 1st International, judged the competition and praised@thirty-four’s approach, saying;

“The Restaurant, @thirty-four, fully hit the brief with a well-planned and researched event proposed for the 75th anniversary of the NHS. They put great thought into all elements of the brief including the marketing plan for the event and how they would utilise other departments of the college provision such as performing arts. 

“They also ensured that the planned meal focussed on local produce and suppliers bringing in a sustainable approach to the whole event. Congratulations to the lecturers and chefs at Exeter College and well done to all the college teams that took part.”

John Laramy CBE, Exeter College Principal said;

“Our vision is to be an exceptional college; this achievement is truly exceptional. A sector leading outcome that shows our world class partnership with Michael Caines MBE DL, our fantastic staff and the work of our amazing students.”

Michael Caines MBE DL, alumni, and patron of the College, said;

“I feel incredibly proud of the students and staff for winning this amazing award, it is a true testament to all the hard work that has gone on behind the scenes by the students and the College lecturers as well. 

“I think past and present students can be proud of this progression for the College and of the restaurant itself, with the beautiful refurbishmentto bring it up to modern standards. The enthusiasm fromall the team behind the scenes and out front too, has turned it into an amazing experience for customers.

“It’s easy to forget this is a training facility and a training environment and yet the standard is so high in every aspect in terms of the interior, the quality of the service and of course the food that is delivered by these young people, the future of our industry. It’s such a great achievement for the College, and rightfully so, they should be incredibly proud, it is brilliant to see.”

Second year Michael Caines Academy student, Freya Hole was one of the students who presented to the judging panel. Speaking about the experience, she said;

“It was an amazing opportunity to be able to work with Hospitality students from all three year groups to come up with this brilliant idea. We weren’t expecting to win so I think that’s what makes it even better because never in our wildest dreams were we expecting to win.”

Tracey Bennett, Head of Faculty for Hospitality, Hair, and Beauty at Exeter College, added;

“We are all so proud of the @thirty-four Restaurant and our commercial spaces and having this validated with the Highly Commended Rosette and now the College Restaurant of the Year has been amazing for everyone, students and staff alike.

“This is such a fantastic achievement for all the students and staff across the diverse range of courses we offer here at Exeter College. From the Michael Caines Academy, NVQ and VRQ students; they all strive to meet the high standards their lecturers set.”

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