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Willy Wonka Meets Mary Poppins at Catering Taster Day

200 school students were treated to a free fun day out at West London College at the latest taster day from The Chefs’ Forum on 27 April. Both Willy Wonka and Mary Poppins were gleefully represented by Chef Jesse Dunford Wood who created a special dessert to open the new Taylor UK Gelato kitchen at the college and inspire the next generation of chefs. The local schools that attended the magical event were St Marylebone CE Bridge School, Nower Hill High School, Cambridge School, Guru Nanak Sikh Academy, Westside School Hammersmith, Brentside High Ealing, Cumberland Community School, Ark Acton Academy and Barnhill Community High.

Chef Michael Dutnall demonstrating a ravioli masterclass; Poppy Cooks and Catherine
Chef Michael Dutnall demonstrating a ravioli masterclass; Poppy Cooks and Catherine Farinha

In a new direction, there was a cookery demonstration by TikTok and Instagram sensation Poppy O’Toole AKA Poppy Cooks, who works with potatoes in creative ways, including her viral hit, ’15-hour potatoes’. Poppy has reached over 2 million followers on social media and made her first appearance on ‘Saturday Kitchen’ over the weekend. 

Billed as an insight into the world of hospitality the students were treated to:

  • A canapé and mocktail reception
  • A brilliant live performance of The Chefs’ Forum’s own taster day theme tune by Manchester artist Lowkeylimit, accompanied by break dancers Kitt Sells and Mikey Hook-Tappin
  • A dessert-making masterclass – Jesse Dunford Wood
  • A talk and demonstration by a leading social media influencer Poppy Cooks – fresh from her appearance on Saturday Kitchen
  • Redefine Meat™ ‘New-Meat’ burgers
  • A ravioli masterclass – Michael Dutnall from the RAF Club
  • A sushi masterclass and student sushi rolling competition by sushi master Kaiko Urakawa

Chefs’ Forum director Catherine Farinha said: “It was a fantastic day. We were thrilled at the lineup and they didn’t disappoint. Jesse’s dessert wowed the students and it was so exciting to inaugurate the new Taylor UK Gelato Kitchen with flavours of vanilla, strawberry cheesecake, raspberry ripple, passion fruit, chocolate and caramel and mint choc chip making an appearance.”

Denise Charles, Head of Curriculum at West London College, said: “When you have a lineup like we did it is easy to demonstrate to potential students what a fun world hospitality is. And bringing in a social media star was a master stroke by The Chefs’ Forum. Poppy was brilliant and she just resonated with the students – they could understand her and relate to her. And then there were the other brilliant demos by Michael Dutnall and Kaiko Urakawa which just topped it all off.”

Denise’s students catered and served all of the canapes, Redefine Meat™ burgers and mocktails to hundreds of students from 9 feeder schools. Chef Lecturer Bob Carruthers also organised the kitchens with military precision, so the food kept coming throughout the event.

David Rees from Taylor UK said: “We are delighted to be instrumental in furthering the education of students in the new Gelato Kitchen. It’s a no-brainer when you get feedback like this. How wonderful it was to see homage being paid to both Mary Poppins and Willy Wonka, all in one dessert. Priceless.”

Jesse Dunford Wood said: “The quality of the ice cream in the Taylor UK ice-cream machine was excellent and made my dessert idea come alive. It was great fun.”

Poppy said: “It was a pleasure to come and give a demonstration to these amazing students. It wasn’t that long ago that I was in their position, and I heartily recommend a career in hospitality – it really is fun.”

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