Hospitality and catering students at @LSEColleges have been carefully and creatively adapting their own kitchens over the past six weeks to continue learning 

Tutors quickly re-arranged timetables shortly before lockdown to concentrate on practical sessions and subsequent assessments followed before the doors closed. Distance learning packages were then carefully assembled including lots of reading materials, videos, presentations and knowledge tests. Daily engagement with students (via Zoom, WhatsApp, the BR6 Twitter account and other online learning tools) has been ongoing and a set of challenges and competitions set each week for the students to get their teeth into. 

With a focus very much on cooking and food preparation, students from levels 1 to 3 have been encouraged to take part in the BR6 Chef’s Challenge. They are invited to choose or create a dish (starter, main or dessert) and write a short and simple description of it. This, along with a list of ingredients and methods, is then sent to the tuition team for consideration and feedback. The team will then choose the winning dishes for the BR6 Restaurant and Bakehouse menu. The parents and guardians of students will be invited for a special ‘re-opening’ night at the restaurant as soon as total lockdown has been lifted and treated to the full menu with tasters totally free of charge.

In the meantime, the students are busy stirring up their creative juices in preparation with tutors providing them with all the backup and support they need.

Tutor Kirstie Ison has been staying in contact through email, phone and messaging and has her students sending in pictures of everything they do. She says: “There’s no doubt that we all miss our fantastic training and kitchen facilities in the restaurant, but this sudden lockdown has taught us all many things. One is that we have to use our sense of resourcefulness in order to carry on teaching and learning and getting things done.

“Students were a bit wary of the online learning initially but because of the support they have received, I’m glad to say they have all come on board and found their own groove. One of the challenges for me personally has been finding the space and ingredients in my own kitchen to deliver live demos.

“Overall I think the hospitality team have made an amazing transition into the realms of virtual learning. The determination of our students has shone through. I'm very proud of them all.”

Student Ellie Stone, 18, from Orpington is currently in her second year at the College and thought her chances of completing her level 2 hospitality and catering qualifications on time may have been thwarted. She says: “None of us knew how long this would last and to begin with, I thought I might be back in class after Easter. When this didn’t happen, I knew I would need to set up operations at home and knuckle down to all the work and challenges sent to us online in video tutorials, PowerPoint presentations and on Zoom. The tutors have been brilliant and kept me motivated and inspired all the time. Although I’m missing everybody at College, I know we (tutors and fellow students) are all pulling together and keeping each other on-track.”

Ellie’s mother has also been very complimentary about the efforts her daughter’s tutors have been going to. She wrote: “Ellie has been receiving lots of help and instructions online and lots of encouragement to keep going and not lose her enthusiasm for the course.

“Cooking is her true love and she has taken over the kitchen and become the family’s own head chef. She has been searching for new and enticing recipes, ordering the ingredients and booking deliveries from supermarkets and local farms before setting to work on a number of culinary delights for the whole family. It’s been wonderful. I cannot praise the tutors enough for the way they have supported their students through this period - albeit virtually. Thank you all so much.” 

If you think you have what it takes to become a professional chef/front of house specialist and build a successful career in the hospitality and catering industries, London South East Colleges has a great range of courses to get you started.

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