The Chefs’ Forum spring event took place at The Dorchester in London on Monday 27 January 2020 to launch West London College becoming members of the Chefs’ Forum Academy. As academy members, top chefs from the best hotels and restaurants teach masterclasses for West London College catering students, as well as providing invaluable extra-curricular activities to ensure student success and achievement. Thirty-three West London College catering students attended the outstanding event and twenty-three worked with The Dorchester’s chefs to prepare afternoon tea, while six Hospitality students served drinks, canapes and afternoon tea.
Dating back to the 1930s, this landmark lodging is one of the world’s most iconic hotels. A destination in itself, The Dorchester was the perfect venue to welcome nearly two hundred chefs and hospitality professionals for a day of fabulous cookery and cocktail demonstrations and industry networking.
The day started with a fantastic market research focus group held in the Crystal Suite at The Dorchester and led by Japanese fine food supplier, 47 Elements, showcasing fine Japanese IGA Waygu beef and seventeen different sake rice wines as well as other delicious Japanese ingredients paired to Western foods like Nutcellars macadamia nougat, macadamia pesto and Grey Poupon mustard (as well as the more traditional Japanese condiments of yuzu powder and wasabi oil). The Japanese Embassy as well as the national Japanese media attended the session that preceded the main event.
Twenty-five top chefs, butchers and members of the foodie media tasted the delicious Japanese produce and gave much-valued feedback from their extremely well-developed palates. The reason for the focus group was to research the case to make sake more mainstream, pairing it with western foods and also to promote authentic Japanese IGA wagyu beef, produced in the mountainous Iga city in Mie Prefecture (state) which borders the tourist-beloved Nara Prefecture on the west. It is also called ‘the ninja beef’, owing to the area being the birthplace of ninjas – the chefs loved all of the produce on offer and gave their valuable feedback in a questionnaire which will yield valuable product insight.
The main event started at midday and was attended by Mayor Cllr Daryl Brown of Hammersmith and Fulham Council and her daughter, Mayoress Christina Brown. The event was a fantastic opportunity to showcase the Dorchester as an excellent hospitality industry employer and its opulent ballroom as one of the leading event venues In London, as well as its support for fellow industry professionals and the next generation.
Chefs’ Forum Founder Catherine Farinha and Denise Charles of West London College then gave a welcome speech. talking about the work The Chefs’ Forum does to support the college in enriching students’ learning via The Chefs’ Forum Academy. Many chefs in attendance had already taught in the Academy and the purpose of the event was to encourage more chefs to do so. A networking session then followed, where Chefs’ Forum Sponsors showcased their produce and products to the industry professionals who attended.
The Dorchester chef brigade led a team of students from West London College in their busy kitchen to produce stunning canapés to be served at midday during the networking session, showcasing their five-star menu. This event also celebrated the launch of The Chefs’ Forum Academy at West London College, an initiative implemented in September 2019 which sees top chefs and hospitality experts from all over London visiting the college on a weekly basis. The guest chefs give lectures in line with the curriculum to enhance students’ learning; this, in turn, opens employment opportunities for them upon leaving college.
Mario and his team worked tirelessly to produce a delicious selection of savoury and sweet bites to impress the culinary guests with their skills with a view to students gaining employment in the best professional kitchens in London. This was certainly a possibility as chefs from the finest kitchens including The Savoy, The Westbury, RAF Club, Buddha Bar, Texture, Sketch, The Waldorf and many more gathered at The Dorchester for a celebration of gastronomic flair and a celebration of culinary excellence.
Award-winning catering butchers, Walter Rose and Son opened the show, giving chefs an impressive beef butchery demo, and preparing steak cuts for the cookery demos that followed.
Jack Cook and Alex Byrne broke down the finest Stokes Marsh Farm beef into expertly butchered steaks and choice cuts.
The talent of the chefs was highly impressive with top chefs Tom Booton (Head Chef), Saravanan Palanipandichamy (Senior Sous Chef), Mario Perera (Executive Sous Chef) and Soham Sonawane (Senior Sous Chef) performing brilliant cookery demos on The Chefs’ Forum demo stage, showcasing their mouth-watering menu. The demos were accompanied by bowl food prepared and served by the students to showcase each dish.
Denise Charles, Head of Curriculum for Service Industries at West London College, stated: “Today has been an amazing experience for our students. They love to work with different chefs, students from other colleges and learning new cooking techniques. The Chefs’ Forum Academy curriculum enrichment programme is working extremely well for us as a college and the students and staff really enjoy the sessions. It was a fantastic opportunity to showcase the project to our mayor and other dignitaries who have attended today. The food was superb today 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 Denise and West London’s College for four years now. It is great for the students to meet so many fantastic chefs and peers from other colleges with the common purpose of enriching students’ learning. The chefs and students did a fantastic job today, they really rose to the challenge and it’s so important that we nurture and support the next generation 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.”
West London College students Karin Amos and Beulah Star Johnson both secured work experience shifts at The Dorchester on the back of their excellent performance on the day which won them the title of ‘Star of the Day’. Both students received a signed book by Celebrity Chef, James Martin and Peter Fiori of Executive Chef of Coutts.
A great day was had by all at The Dorchester and West London College can’t wait to welcome Mario and the team to West London College to teach students in their training kitchens as part of The Chefs’ Forum Academy, Soham has already led a session where he cooked wild seabass, vegetable fennel pesto broth and dandelion syrup as well as a Lobster Bisque which was extremely well-received.