Chef and hospitality graduates marched past cheering students banging pots and pans as they celebrated their success at Westminster Kingsway College (@Westking).
Around 200 students and apprentices donned in mortar boards and gowns were awarded in front of teachers, staff, parents and guests at ceremonies at the college’s Victoria Centre.
They received diplomas for completing courses and apprenticeship training in culinary arts, kitchen and larder, hospitality and events, patisserie and restaurant service.
Both the classes of 2021 and 2020 were honoured at separate ceremonies after last year’s graduation was cancelled because of the COVID pandemic.
Scrolls were presented by Assistant Principal Terry Tinton, Paul Jervis, Head of School for Hospitality and Culinary Arts and Sharon Barry, Head of School for Hospitality Apprenticeships.
Awards were also presented to the best and most improved graduates of 2021 including the Student of the Year on Professional Chef, Pastry Chef and Restaurant Service diplomas.
Daniela Prela, 21, won the Professional Chef Diploma Student of the Year award and has been working at The Ritz London for the past two months.
“I’ve taken so much from my time at WestKing. Every day I am using skills and bits of knowledge I’ve learned at college. I’ve always had a passion for cooking and been baking cakes since I was 10 years old. I was edging towards university, but it wasn’t where my heart was and I’m glad I took this route. It was definitely the right decision.
“I had such a bond with my lecturers. They helped me so much and I really appreciate what they’ve done for me. I could turn to them any time I needed anything. The support they gave never stopped. You’ll never find teachers like this anywhere else.”
Adin Gredelj, 19, won the Most Improved Chef Student award and is working at Odette's restaurant in Primrose Hill run by Great British Menu winner Bryn Williams.
He said: “I’m really happy and proud of myself to have graduated and it’s great to win this award, which was really unexpected. When I was looking at going to college I did a lot of research about WestKing and saw it was one of the best schools in the UK for culinary arts. I’ve have seen how much I’ve improved each year and its lived up to my expectations 100 per cent.”
Bella Thornton, 19, who won the Most Improved Pastry Chef award, said:
“I’ve had an incredible time at Westminster. I’ve enjoyed my course so much and learnt a whole range of skills to work in a pastry kitchen. My teachers have been great. They had so much knowledge and experience to pass on and tips that will be useful in the future. I’m so happy to have graduated and now the time’s come to move on in the world.”
Alfie Tilyard, 19, who won the Award for Special Achievement presented to the student who achieved above and beyond expectations most during their studies.
“I’m gobsmacked and so happy that I’ve finally done it. Three years have gone by like that. I’ve learnt the skills of the trade and can now cook perfectly every time,” said Alfie, is working at the Smith & Wollensky steakhouse in Westminster.
“My mum had a cake business and even before that I loved food. I was the only one of my friends from school to do culinary and go on to do it professionally. When I went on my first work experience at a small kitchen in a café I knew this was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.”
The ceremonies saw professional chefs Ben Purton, Daniel Ayton, Selin Kiazim, Ben Murphy and Andrew Wong each receive an Honorary Fellowship of Westminster Kingsway College.
The tradition of banging pots and pans was introduced by Deputy Executive Principal Gary Hunter when he was Head of School as a way of welcoming graduates into the alumni.
Speaking at both ceremonies, he said:
“To all our graduates I would like to convey my warmest congratulations on what is a brilliant personal achievement.
“I know that the road to this graduation has been very demanding, with many seemingly impossible difficulties to navigate along the way. But this, as you may possibly acknowledge, could well prove to have been a valuable part of your education experience too.
“I hope that you have fully enjoyed your time at the college and will profit from your experience and training here in the years to come. I urge to you to keep in contact with the college and support us over future years. You are all members of the Westminster family.”