From education to employment

Top Welsh Chefs Mentor Next Generation of Talent from Cardiff and Vale College and Coleg Gwent Raising Vital Funds to help Young Chefs Entering Industry

Five of Wales’ most highly-skilled chefs helped young people from Cardiff and Vale College and Coleg Gwent serve up a mouth-watering meal for 80 extremely discerning hospitality industry employer diners in one of the leading catering colleges in Wales.

Cardiff and Vale College invited students from Coleg Gwent into their kitchen to cook with their peers and the visiting expert chefs. Nearly £2000 was raised to support hospitality and catering students all over the country with travel costs in accessing work experience, essential equipment and helping colleges to fund employer trips, visits and feeder school travel to college ‘Taster day’ events.

Cardiff and Vale College opened up its teaching kitchens and The Classroom Restaurant to the cream of the culinary profession on Monday to host a fundraising lunch for The Chefs’ Forum Educational Foundation CIC – An organisation incorporated by Catherine Farinha and Alexandra Duncan in October 2016 to raise vital funds to help disadvantaged young people to enter the hospitality business, by linking them up with employers and providing essential support and equipment.

The Chefs’ Forum bridges the gap between industry and education and by hosting the Chefs’ Lunch in what is now the seventh year of The Chefs’ Forum. In hosting the lunch, Cardiff and Vale College underlined its commitment to the initiative in inspiring young chefs, enriching their learning and forging strong links with leading employers within the industry.

Mentoring the college students on the day were two Michelin-starred chefs Hywel Jones (Lucknam Park) and James Sommerin (Restaurant James Sommerin) Andrew Robertson (Cardiff Marriott), Ryan Mitchell (Chapel 1877) and Matt Waldron (The Stackpole Inn).

The menu was absolutely sublime and the guest chefs introduced each course:

Amuse Bouche

Andrew Robertson – Cardiff Marriott
Wild mushroom soup


Hywel Jones – Lucknam Park

Heritage beetroot and Somerset ricotta tart with Wiltshire truffle


Fish Course
Ryan Mitchell – Chapel 1877

Curried cod loin, coconut spiced biryani, roasted sweetcorn,
mango salsa, yoghurt foam and toasted almonds


Main Course
James Sommerin – Restaurant James Sommerin

Douglas Willis PGI Welsh Lamb, coconut, butternut squash and cumin



Matt Waldron – The Stackpole Inn

Warm chocolate mousse, peanut and Pembrokeshire sea salt

The front of house students also did a fantastic job of table lay-up and wine, lunch and coffee service expertly-led by front of house lecturer Richard Littleton.

The menu was absolutely delicious with the chefs all showcasing signature dishes to their professional peers as well as the students.

Codorníu Anna cava was served as a welcome drink as guests networked and spoke to top suppliers in a mini trade show. Cordoníu also sponsored the wines served with the lunch; White Rioja Viura-Malvasia 2018 and Red Vina Pomal Rioja Reserva 2014 – A delicious accompaniment to the excellent dishes served by the guest chefs.

A welcome speech was made by Eric Couturier, Deputy Head of Catering and Chefs’ Forum Founder Catherine Farinha. Eric spoke of the importance of the College and local employers working together to support this vital sector and thanked the guests for attending the Chefs’ Lunch.

Eric said

“It is fantastic to welcome so many local employers and renowned chefs here to our college today. Inspirational events and experiences such as today’s chefs’ lunch with The Chefs’ Forum are a key part of our focus on apprenticeships and careers here at the college.”

“Employability, exposure to industry and work-readiness is a crucial element that sits alongside traditional class-based studies at our College and indeed, Coleg Gwent. Working hand in hand with industry partners who offer unrivalled, career focused work placements is an ongoing priority for us – and is something we are proud to offer to our students.

“For our students to be able to work alongside some of the most exciting and highly respected chefs in the country is an amazing opportunity and one that will truly inspire them to become the next generation of culinary creatives and hospitality professionals.”

Michelin-starred Chef Hywel Jones of Lucknam Park welcomed guests to the event and spoke of the importance for chefs in industry to support the next generation of chefs.

Hywel said:

“It is very important that we support events like this in our colleges to mentor and inspire the next generation. There has been a great buzz around the place today and the students from Cardiff and Vale College and Coleg Gwent have really excellent themselves. I very much look forward to continuing to work with the college and The Chefs’ Forum as we have done for the past six years.”

All ingredients for the lunch were kindly sponsored by Koppert Cress, Oliver Kay, Douglas Willis, E.Ashton Fishmongers, and Santa Maria. This vital sponsorship drives down the food cost and maximised funds raised on the day, nearly £2000 on this occasion which is very impressive indeed.

The event further-benefitted from a silent auction on the day, further-raising of the total. Auction lots were kindly donated by Dinner, Bed & Breakfast for two at Swansea Marriott, Cardiff Marriott and The Exchange Hotel, A private chef evening for four with Matt Waldron and David Pipe Horse Racing Stable Tour and Race Tickets for four.

A Grand Prize Draw was also run on the day with prizes generously donated by Giovannis (Cardiff), Chef Martyn Watkins (St David’s Hotel), Codorniu Anna Cava, Chapel 1877, Etc Restaurant, Restaurant James Sommerin – the lunch and The Chefs’ Forum Educational Foundation greatly- benefited from this kind support.

Together, the chefs and students created and served a four-course meal for around eighty professionals from the catering industry who were all there to get in touch with the next generation of talent whilst catching up with their peers and suppliers.

Gavin George, Chef Lecturer at Coleg Gwent stated:

“Today has been an amazing experience for our students. They love to work with different chefs, their peers from Cardiff and Vale College and learning new cooking techniques. The food was superb and it was a great opportunity to showcase our students’ professionalism and skills. I would like to thank The Chefs’ Forum for making today a great success and inspiring our students.”

Catherine Farinha, Chefs’ Forum Founder added:

“We have been working with Eric and Cardiff and Vale College for six years now. It is great to have two Welsh Colleges and five Welsh chefs here today with the common purpose of enriching students’ learning across both Cardiff and Vale college and Coleg Gwent. It is fantastic to return to the College for the third time to stage a lunch event with another new cohort of students and the next generation of top chefs. The chefs and students did a fantastic job today, they really stepped-up to the task and it’s so important that we nurture and support the next generations of hospitality professionals. It’s important they have the opportunity to work with industry on the practical side, as well as on theory. For the students who took part today, this event was an excellent opportunity to build on important networks and partnerships in the hospitality and catering industry.”

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