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Top Welsh chefs and @CAVC Catering students enjoy a Michelin-starred masterclass

On Monday (24) April, Michelin-starred chef James Sommerin welcomed top Welsh Chefs and catering students from Cardiff and Vale College into his impressive restaurant, situated on Penarth seafront.  The Chefs’ Forum event was staged to showcase James’ culinary flair and skill that has acquired him three AA Rosettes, an impressive Good Food Guide ranking (24) and most recently a Michelin Star!

Restaurant James Sommerin boasts nine luxury bedrooms making it a seriously fabulous destination to celebrate any special day or event.  Its formal, yet relaxed atmosphere enables guests to enjoy the wow-factor of an intricate fine-dining experience, without being pretentious in any way.  James’ hands-on approach is impressive in heading-up and brilliantly coordinating every element of the Michelin-starred dining experience: from Executive Chef and Maitre d’ to table lay-up and reservations.

Catherine Farinha, event organiser and Founder of The Chefs’ Forum stated:

“James’ versatile, personable and expert skill set made him the ideal mentor for the day in inspiring the young chefs who put themselves forward to help out with The Chefs’ Forum event on their day off. The students’ enthusiastic attitude was duly noted by James and the industry guests who attended.  The students gave an excellent impression of themselves and in representing their college.  We are proud to work with James Sommerin and Cardiff and Vale College in bringing the Welsh culinary industry together.”

Twelve students from Cardiff and Vale College arrived on the day to help prepare canapés and set up the event for sixty culinary experts from across Wales who came to get a glimpse of James’ award-winning set-up and deliciously impeccable, well-thought-out food.

James was very impressed with the college students, he said:

“The students tried really hard today and coped well with some complex tasks given to them.  It was clear that they were inspired and that was great to see.  I would be more than happy to consider applications from students at Cardiff and Vale based on today’s performance.”

Joyce Harvey, Chef Lecturer at Cardiff and Vale College echoed James’ observations saying:

“Today’s Chefs’ Forum event was an excellent opportunity for our students to experience working in a Michelin-starred kitchen and front of house environment.  They thoroughly enjoyed preparing canapés and serving a selection of wines to some of Wales’ best chefs.  They were able to showcase their skills learned in college in a realistic environment and it was fantastic to see offers of stages and trial shifts being offered to students by industry guests who attended – The students will now be supported in following these up.”

Sean Willis of Douglas Willis butchers sponsors The Chefs’ Forum and supplies James with top quality Welsh meat served in his restaurant.  A good relationship between butcher and chef is crucial in maintaining Michelin-starred standards and consistency and it was lovely to see this perfect partnership in action as James and Sean embarked on a ‘Lamb-off’ in an entertaining, yet highly skilled butchery masterclass.  Sean then set two catering students the challenge of French-trimming a rack of lamb.

Catering and Hospitality student Meg Harris (17) won the competition and a fantastic leather knife roll worth £145 which was donated by Chefs Locker.  James was very impressed with Meg and has also invited her to come back and undertake a ‘stage’ with him at the restaurant with a view to a more permanent arrangement.

Meg Harris said:

“I really enjoyed my time and experience here today, especially working with James Sommerin.  It was great to learn new techniques, flavours and textures in a Michelin-starred kitchen.  I was delighted to win the butchery competition and needed a knife roll so it was fantastic to win one!”

Other highlights of the day included a duo of Michelin-starred cookery demonstrations by James; the first utilising the freshly butchered lamb – Loin and breast of lamb, broad beans, turnip and tarragon and the second, strawberries, white chocolate and vanilla, where guests were wowed with the use of balloons and liquid nitrogen – A real show and a delight to watch the master at work!

The day finished with delectable petit fours made by James and the students and a great day was had by all who attended.  The Chefs’ Forum continues to hold quarterly events in Wales and is looking forward to the next event to be held at Celtic Manor on the 24th July and our autumn event with Indian culinary ‘superhero’ chef Stephen Gomes on the 30th October at Moksh, Cardiff Bay. 

About the Chefs’ Forum: The Chefs’ Forum holds 36 events across nine regions every year. The Chefs’ Forum has two Academies – Gloucestershire College and Weston College – There are plans to roll this out to further colleges in 2017/18.

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