From education to employment

Culinary Arts Students Enjoy a Taste of Nashville, Tennessee

Paul Monaghan, SERC Patisserie and Confectionery Course Co-ordinator, with students (L – R) Aimee Roleston, Bronagh Beattie, Josie Chapman, Rachel Carson, Dylan Murphy, Sarah Termonia and Connor Addis on a cultural visit to the Tennessee State Capitol, seat of the government for the U.S. state of Tennessee in Nashville.

A group of seven culinary arts students from South Eastern Regional College (SERC) took part in a three-week work and study experience to Nashville, Tennessee last term.  

Fully funded through the Turing Scheme, culinary arts students were joined by music students for the state side trip and were the first of a cohort of 116 students – supported by 46 staff – from across SERC who undertook a work or placement visit this year.

The students and Apprentices participating were Aimee Roleston, (Millisle) – Level 3 Patisserie and Confectionery at Bangor Campus, Dylan Murphy, (Newtownards), employed by Eight South – Professional Cookery Level 3 Apprenticeship at Bangor Campus; Connor Addis, (Ardglass), employed by The Barn and Bronagh Beattie, (Ardglass), employed by Duad in East Belfast from the Higher Level Apprenticeship in Culinary Arts at Downpatrick Campus; Rachel Carson, (Crumlin) and Josie Chapman, (Tandragee), both employed by Yellow Door, from the Higher Level Apprenticeship in Culinary Arts at Lisburn Campus; and Sarah Termonia, (Antrim) studying at Galgorm (NI Hospitality School) from the Level 2 Diploma in Professional Chef (Northern Ireland).

The Culinary Arts students worked in the luxury Dream Nashville-Printer’s Alley venue which is part of Dreams Hotel Group and learnt about local cuisines and culinary techniques.

Chef Lecturer Brian Magill, who accompanied the students on the trip said, “The students were fully immersed into the workings of a luxury hotel on a combination of day and evening shifts, with some being pastry based.   It was a fantastic experience for them all.  Three of them were offered positions under the J1 Visa scheme, testament to the calibre of the students and the teaching at the College.

“As well as their placement, the students visited several hotels in Nashville which cater for different markets and volumes, including a 10,000-delegate conference-fit hotel.   It takes one hour to walk from one end of the hotel to the other which gives you some idea of scale.

He added, “We also got to visit several restaurants to experience different concepts from breakfast to barbeque, visiting farmers markets, and other cultural activities including a spot of line dancing. The hospitality and high service levels certainly made an impression on the group.”

Bronagh Beattie, (Ardglass), from the Higher-Level Apprenticeship in Culinary Arts at Downpatrick Campus and employed by Duad in East Belfast said, “The whole trip was a fantastic experience.   I have never been to Nashville and as you can imagine, everything like the rest of the States, is on a much bigger scale.

Taking a quick photo selfie break in the luxury Dream Nashville-Printer’s Alley venue, which is part of Dreams Hotel Group are students (L- R) Rachel Carson, Sarah Termonia and Bronagh Beattie.

“I particularly enjoyed working alongside the local people and hearing their stories about work and life in Nashville.  The work was great and whole food aspect was amazing.   I was delighted to be invited back under the J1 Visa scheme – it felt like my work, skills and experience were recognised and appreciated. If I had been at a different stage in my career, it might have been something to consider, but as I am a mature student, I am happy where my career is going now and I am working on completing the Higher Level Apprenticeship.

“We got to experience some delicious local delicacies and one of my favourites was Hattie B’s Hot Chicken, famous in Nashville.   I have been working to perfect my own hot chicken sauce since I got home.   Hattie B’s had a secret ingredient which they were not giving up to me, but I am working on it!”

Bronagh concluded, “One of my personal highlights was a visit to the Grand Ole Opry to see Chapel Heart and the Mavericks, a trip to the Music Hall of Fame and just soaking up some of the music scene in Nashville.”

The Turing Scheme provides funding for students and accompanying staff to undertake a study or work placement across the world. This is a life changing experience for SERC students, giving them a unique opportunity to gain vital international experience, improving their technical skills and their employability or T-Skills. Students also improve their language skills and gain a better understanding of other global cultures and work practices.

The Turing Scheme contributes to the UK Government’s commitment to a Global Britain, by helping organisations such as SERC to enhance existing international links and forge new relationships. The delivery partner for the Turing Scheme is Capita working on behalf of the Department for Education.

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