In a move designed to help local colleges attract the next generation of school leavers, the Chefs’ Forum (@thechefsforum) is helping catering colleges with virtual open days.

The first event was held yesterday at Coleg Gwent in South Wales, with another event being held at The Manchester College on 11th May.

Coleg Gwent’s Taster Day was a huge success, with Great British Menu Contestants, esteemed Welsh chefs and top artisan producers all joining forces to give a fantastic insight into becoming a chef or hospitality professional.

Helen Lawless, Head of School – Services to People at Coleg Gwent said;

“It was a fantastic event and I’d like to say a huge thank you to all involved.  It was great to welcome Chefs Tom Westerland (Crockers Henley), Cindy Challoner (Great British Menu), Joe Bartlett (Lake Country House Hotel), Tommy Heaney (Heaney’s Cardiff) and Matt Waldron (The Stackpole Inn) all gave fascinating talks and demos and were full of tips for success in the industry.”

Neil Rippington, Director of Education at The Chefs’ Forum then introduced the students to the various text books he has written for culinary students over the years, so it was great for them to meet the author of the books they will actually be using on their courses.

Tom Westerland talked the students through his journey as a chef and the importance of taking part in culinary competitions for professional development and his success in winning regional and national finals and titles, including National Chef of Wales in 2018.

Next, Cindy Challoner made a fantastic dish of Welsh Cakes using locally-produced cheese from South Caernarfon Creamery.

Joe Bartlett then followed with a fantastic talk of foraging, showcasing wild garlic which he then used to make a delicious cavern-aged cheddar cheese tart with chopped green sauce.

Tommy Heaney and Matt Waldron then cooked in tandem on a split screen to create two more recipes showcasing local charcuterie from Cwm Farm and Wickedly Welsh Chocolate.

The Students were given tasters of Cwm Farm Charcuterie – A lava bread salami and a nduja. Proprietor Ruth Davies introduced them by video tour to her production facility, which she calls ‘Salami HQ’ in Ystradgynlais.

“I love working with young people and showcasing our product.  It’s great to be able to show the students all the different things you can do with meat.  It was also great to work with such esteemed chefs and fellow artisanal producers, Wickedly Welsh Chocolate and Caernarfon Creamery.”

Tommy Heaney made a fantastic croquette recipe using the award-winning Nduja and wild garlic that he foraged himself.  He told the students

“This charcuterie is stunning, and it really makes this tapas dish.  This is a fantastic industry and there is just so much opportunity for you if you get your head down and work hard.”

Meanwhile, Matt Waldron was just waiting for his Stackpole Chocolate fondants to finish cooking.  While we waited for his perfectly gooey-centred dark globes of indulgence, Matt (a past student of Coleg Gwent) told the students what he’s looking for in young chefs looking to join the team.

Remaining events with equally compelling line-ups will also take place with the following colleges:

  • Pembrokeshire College – 12th May
  • West London College – 19th May
  • Bath College – 16th June

We’ll let you know how they go and how they were received nearer the time!

The format, that lasts a morning and is watchable via Zoom, will see local chefs joining in with the college staff to promote a career in catering and hospitality.

The Manchester College’s Taster Day will see Chefs Doug Crampton (James Martin Manchester), Dipna Anand (Brilliant Restaurant), Exose Grand Lupo-Ndinga (Granted Cakes) and Laurien Veaudor (Cocorico).

For the Pembrokeshire College event, four chefs will give 15-minute demonstrations and answer questions from the school teachers and prospective college students from year 8 upwards. Dougie Balish from The Grove at Narberth, Matt Waldron from The Stackpole Inn, Lisa Fern from The Pumpkin Patch Kitchen and Laurian Veaudour from Cocorico will all join forces to cook recipes live and use the finest ingredients.

Samples of Valrhona Chocolate and other fine foods will be sent out to the schools for the budding young chefs to taste, to give more of a three-dimensional experience.  Recipe cards will be provided for the students to recreate the dishes at home.

The events are being set up to allow up to 200 students to attend from approximately 8 schools.

Catherine Farinha, Founder of The Chefs’ Forum concluded:

“The event at Coleg Gwent was a great success. A true celebration of Welsh produce and talented Welsh chefs. It’s so important to welcome the next generation into the industry – more so than ever now Brexit is done!”

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