From education to employment

The Sheffield College students inspired by life changing educational trip to Thailand

Students from The Sheffield College have enjoyed an international trip of a lifetime.

A group of 30 catering and hospitality and hair and beauty students visited Thailand as part of their course.

The 10-day educational trip was funded by the Turing Scheme, which provides students with opportunities to study, work and train abroad.

Colleges, schools and universities apply for funding from the government-run scheme on students’ behalf.

Based in the country’s capital city Bangkok, the students took part in a range of industry-led classes that developed their knowledge and technical skills.

During the visit in February 2024, they also had some time to take in the city’s cultural sights including floating markets, the Wat Arun and Wat Pho temples, Koh-Kret island, an elephant sanctuary and Bang Saen beach.

Len Unwin, Curriculum Team Leader, Catering and Hospitality, The Sheffield College, said:

“We are really proud to be able to give our young people this opportunity for professional and personal development.

“A lot of our students had not been abroad before. If they had travelled, it was to Europe. It was the experience of a lifetime and one that will help them go further in their careers. We would like to thank our Thai hosts for being so hospitable and welcoming.”

Kerry Fookes, Curriculum Manager, Hair and Beauty, The Sheffield College, added:

“This trip taught our students about respect and tolerance for other cultures. Working with language barriers took them out of their comfort zones and developed their resilience.

“I can honestly say, hand on heart, that all of our students came back more open minded and willing to try new things. I couldn’t be prouder of them, it was a life changing opportunity.”

The catering students learnt about traditional Thai culinary dishes with the Suan Dusit International Culinary School and completed a three-hour practical test.

They were taught a range of dishes including chicken satay with peanut sauce, spicy minced pork salad, papaya salad, curry noodles soup and green chicken curry.

Meanwhile, the hair and beauty students completed a qualification in traditional Thai massage at the Chiva Som Academy. They also learnt about the use of herbs to soothe physical ailments.

Beauty therapy student Ellie Corps said:

“It is not every day that you get to travel to Thailand as part of your course. I enjoyed everything about the trip. It was really good learning about Thai massage, which is very different compared to other styles.”

Catering student Skie Miller Collins added:

“My favourite part of the trip was having the opportunity to learn from all of the chefs in Thailand who were really insightful and helpful.

“We made 24 separate recipes in the seven days we spent in the kitchen and I was grateful to bring back all of the advice they gave me about techniques. I usually use salt but we learnt that they season their food with fish sauce and sugar. 

“The college course is going great. We have had opportunities to work with lots of well-established chefs and learn not only cooking but patisserie.

“When I leave the college, I’m hoping to be able to travel around the world. Thailand really inspired me to learn about different food and cultures.”

Catering student Loz Claydon said:

“The trip was amazing and a once in a lifetime opportunity. My favourite part was learning from the Thai teachers and seeing how their cooking was different to the way we cook in the UK.

“The food markets were mind blowing, seeing how fresh their food was and the abundance of ingredients.

“My long term career will always be cooking, I love it. I was inspired by an auntie, who would always have the best homemade food when we went over for parties, as well as watching television programmes like Saturday Kitchen.

“I am in my third year of my catering diploma and it’s never been better. Just to see how you can take a simple dish and make it into fine dining, this has certainly aided me in my position of part-time trainee chef at Rafters restaurant in Sheffield.

“All of the opportunities we have been given enable us to see two different sides of being a chef; the cooking side and also the business side of it all.”

The catering students are part of the MSK Professional Cookery and Patisserie Employer Skills Academy, which is linked to the college’s award-winning employer skills academies programme.


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