Exhilarating experience gives student chefs a taste for fine dining

January 17, 2018

Chefs from some of the West Sussex’s top hotels shared their expertise with students at Chichester College.

Historic Sussex Hotels took over the college’s kitchens and restaurants on Thursday (January 11) to deliver a special ‘pop up’ fine dining experience in 64 Restaurant & Bar, at the college’s Chichester campus.

A five-course tasting menu – featuring local ingredients including lobster, pheasant and oysters – was prepared and cooked by students studying hospitality and catering, under the tutelage of four chefs, led by Group Executive Head Chef and Roux Scholar Martin Hadden.

The students started work in the kitchen at 9am and wrapped up service more than 12 hours later – giving them an intense insight into the industry, something that was embraced by each of them.

Sam Wilde, 16, said: “It was exhilarating. I really enjoyed it and it was a huge learning experience for us.

“I want to be a chef and this just made me want it more.”

College lecturer Paul Rennie came up with the concept of hosting pop-up evenings at the college. Having now held two, it is hoped they will become a regular feature.

He said: “it’s really important for our students to gain as much experience as possible, and these evenings give them an opportunity to work with top chefs and learn from different people.

“They can learn new techniques, and also have the opportunity to work with produce that would not normally be accessible to them in a college training kitchen.

“We have another event planned next month, and I hope we’ll see this continue to develop.”

Martin Hadden added: “We are delighted to work with and encourage young students showing an interest in our industry. Thursday was a great opportunity for the students to experience the buzz of a live kitchen and restaurant with a lots of hands-on learning.

“We thoroughly enjoyed working with them and hope they will go on to a career in our industry – perhaps we have helped the next Roux scholar or Michelin star. A big thanks also to our suppliers for their generous contributions and we hope all our guests enjoyed the evening as much as we did.”

More than 50 guests, including suppliers and customers, sat down to enjoy the experience in the college’s 64 Restaurant, where they were also served by students.

They including Judy Seddon, a regular customer at Historic Sussex Hotels’ The Spread Eagle restaurant, who praised the students’ achievements.

She said: “It was all really nice – I enjoyed everything!

“The food was lovely, the students were brilliant and so professional.”

Shelagh Legrave OBE, Chief Executive of the Chichester College Group, was among the diners – as was Pontus Carminger, Joint Managing Director for Historic Sussex Hotels.

Both were full of praise for the occasion.

Shelagh said: “Once again, our students have really excelled themselves by creating some really outstanding food.

“They worked incredibly hard, but I know they enjoyed the experience and will have learnt a lot from being in the kitchen with chefs of such high calibre.

“We are very grateful to Historic Sussex Hotels for giving us their time and working with us to give our students this wonderful opportunity.”

Pontus added: “We had a most fantastic evening and dinner at Chichester College last Thursday with delicious food and excellent service.

“It is important for local businesses in the hospitality industry to work closely with the colleges in the region, giving the students the opportunity to get a taste of what it is like working in a hotel or restaurant and to meet and work with chefs and restaurant managers from the industry.

“Working in the hospitality industry, we have a responsibility to show and tell students what a great industry we work in and show our passion for it.  The hospitality industry is all about people and since the economic crisis, its contribution to the economy has grown faster than any other sector and it is continuing to provide a wealth of career opportunities.

“We thank Chichester College for giving us the opportunity to work with the students on this evening and look forward to many more projects in the future to enthuse all the young talents in our colleges to join the exciting and rewarding life of the hospitality industry.”