A two-course dinner made from scratch was on the menu when Derwen College students were invited on a professional catering skills workshop.
Five hospitality students from college had the opportunity to train for the day at a Whitbread-owned industry training kitchen.
Whitbread – owner of restaurant brands including Beefeater, Brewers Fayre, Table Table, Thyme, Cookhouse & Pub and Bar + Block – asked students from the Oswestry-based college to attend a bespoke catering course at its North Learning and Skills Academy in Sale, near Manchester. The students and two members of staff jumped at the chance to learn new skills in a professional environment with top class teaching chefs.
Premier Inn Regional Operations Manager Tracey Bishop invited the students on the experience, having established a close professional relationship between Derwen and the UK’s biggest hotel company Premier Inn, which is also Whitbread-owned. The partnership, which sees students undertaking work experience and paid employment at Premier Inn hotels across the UK, has also seen the creation of a Premier Inn training hotel on the college grounds; here students gain valuable first-hand experience of the hospitality industry.
Budding cooks Faye Humphries, Max Marek, William Chapple, James Ashworth and Adam Gill were given the opportunity to work with industry teachers including Craig Robinson, Lead Academy Manager who ran the day. The students prepared a Spaghetti Bolognese from scratch including peeling and preparing the vegetables and garlic. They worked with pictures to help their understanding and were able to take them home so that they could recreate the same recipe step-by-step for themselves.
Derwen College Work Experience Co-ordinator Abi Baker said that students and staff were thrilled to be invited to the professional training kitchen where Whitbread restaurant teams are trained. Staff from the different Whitbread brands undergo initial training there and attend catering courses whenever a new menu is devised.
Abi Baker said: “We had no idea what to expect but Whitbread surpassed anything we could have hoped for. The students were kitted out in full uniform including safety shoes and were looked after like celebrities – with food and drink throughout the day.
“The students were taught step-by-step to make a Spaghetti Bolognese from scratch, followed by an ice-cream sundae with a huge array of ice-creams, toppings and sprinkles to choose from.
“We invited students who we thought would benefit the most from the day; learners who had done some cooking but were keen to reach that next step of learning. They all developed new skills such as crushing garlic and using graters and peelers. Being treated as VIP guests, they were well-motivated and performed beyond our expectations.
She added: “Students were over-the-moon to be given certificates and allowed to keep their catering kit. And, as the cherry on the cake, unlike in their usual catering sessions, the students didn’t have to do the washing up when they’d finished!”