Two West London College students, Oraib Al-Shareeda who studies Professional Cookery Level 3 and Kai Whittaker a Patisserie and Confectionery Level 2 student have made it through to the prestigious ‘Chefs’ Forum Student Pastry Chef of the Year 2023′ competition. Preceded by UK-wide regional heats, the gripping final takes place at West London College on Wednesday 10 May with competitors from around the country coming to take part.
The rigorous practical assessment begins at 10am and continues for four hours while they create their masterpieces. A tense time follows as the judges, who include Cherish Finden from Bake Off: The Professionals Judge, make their decisions and prize giving is scheduled for 3.30pm.
In advance of the final, the contestants will practise their pastry and patisserie using ingredients and materials supplied by Mitchell & Cooper and Henley Bridge, including vanilla pods, Boiron passion fruit puree, Ecuadorian white chocolate and a Matfer Bourgeat flexipan mould tray. On the day they will use ingredients kindly donated by Henley Bridge and First Choice Produce.
Oraib plans to practise her work of culinary art at Rubens At The Palace, the luxury hotel where she works as the pastry chef. Oraib said: “I am so excited to have reached the finals, it was wonderful to get the email letting me know.”
Kai began his career in hospitality when he took a job working front-of-house as a receptionist. He soon realised his true passion was to work in the kitchen as it was much more practical and creative.
Today, Kai works as a pastry chef at the glamorous restaurant Bob Bob Bricard in the City of London. He will also refine his chef d’oeuvre in the coming days. Kai said: “I feel well supported by my employer and West London College going into the competition. I’m looking forward to the experience of participating and if I get placed it will be the cherry on the cake!”
Yvan Cahour, who teaches patisserie and confectionery at West London College, said: “I couldn’t think of two better candidates to represent the College in Oraib and Kai.”
Denise Charles, Head of Service Industries said: “I’m so proud of Oraib and Kai for reaching the student pastry chef of the year final. Competitions are ideal for our students as they help to raise professional standards as well as confidence and self-esteem.”