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The Corporation

Posted: 20/11/17

Fruits of their labour pay off for chefs

A tailor-made chefs’ training programme has seen a year of hard work and creativity rewarded with a graduation gala dinner at West Nottinghamshire College’s fine dining restaurant last week.

  • The Aspire Chef graduates with hospitality specialists Paul Walker (far left) and Ryan Goward (far right)
  • Chefs spent many hours preparing for the graduation dinner
  • There was a great choice of fine food on the three-course menu
  • Each of the chefs were presented with certificates of achievements and engraved paperweights

Eleven chefs, who are employed at Center Parcs’ five short break villages across the UK, served up a three-course extravaganza showcasing the culinary techniques they’ve learnt on the ‘Aspire Chef Development Programme’, which has been devised in partnership with the college.

Over the past twelve months, chefs from Sherwood Forest, Elveden Forest, Longleat Forest, Whinfell Forest and Woburn Forest have attended training sessions in the college’s industry-standard kitchens, to fine-tune their skills and techniques such as slow-cooking, shallow-frying, roasting and boiling, as well as updating their knowledge of food hygiene and preparation.

Training consisted of six, three-day workshops with the first programme running in 2015. It was so successful that Center Parcs chose to repeat it again the following year.

On Wednesday (15 November) a celebration marking course completion was held with a three-course dinner, with each chef preparing a dish for the menu which was enjoyed by college staff, Center Parcs’ staff and suppliers.

After the meal, certificates of completion were presented by Center Parcs’ group executive chef James Haywood as well as two special awards.

The Chef of the Year award was presented to Andrew Sibley, whilst the Creative Chef award was won by Patrice Andrews – both from Center Parcs Woburn Forest.

Jessica Foster, from Mansfield Woodhouse, who works at the Sports Café at Sherwood Forest, said: “I’ve learnt lots of new skills on this programme and my confidence has soared. I can get quite nervous but I wanted to make sure everything was absolutely perfect. It’s very satisfying to see your dish go out.

“Coming to work in the college kitchens was a great experience. It’s been really good to see other chefs on the course and we’ve been able to learn from each other.”

Jessica cooked a main course of blade of beef with horseradish mash and honey roasted vegetables with a red wine jus.

Andrew Sibley, who works at Center Parcs Woburn Forest, said of the Aspire Chef Development Programme: “I’ve enjoyed this project. Coming fresh into a catering environment this course has really helped me to learn how to work in a professional kitchen, how to use equipment safely and how to produce excellent tasting food.

“I’ve had a complete career change having previously worked in a marketing role. I now work at Huck’s American Bar and Grill at Woburn Forest.

“It’s been really nice to share ideas with other chefs and take ideas back to our own kitchens.”

Andrew’s dish was a chocolate delice – a mirror-glazed chocolate dome layered with chocolate cake, salted caramel and caramel crème brûlée, complete with chocolate mousse and gold leaf decoration.

College hospitality specialist Ryan Goward said: “We are extremely proud of this group. Right from the start of their course they have pushed themselves to ensure that they built on their knowledge, skills and expertise. 

“Congratulations to everyone and I wish them the best of luck in their futures. I hope they go on to inspire another group of chefs from Center Parcs and continue to grow in their own professional development.”

James Haywood, group executive chef at Center Parcs said: “I was absolutely astounded by the quality of the food throughout the evening. I’ve seen great presentation and I’ve tasted most of it too.

“They’ve learnt about different foods, different flavours, classical techniques and they’ve learnt about how to prepare and cook it professionally.”

Tracy Walker, training and welfare manager at Center Parcs said: “Center Parcs is proud to invest in its staff. We like to invest time, money and focus on giving them the skills and confidence they need. Their experience at work goes into giving guests a great experience and that is very important.”