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‘Putting on the Ritz’ at the Chefs’ Forum Taster Day

200 school students in west London were treated to a taste of the top drawer of London yesterday at the annual Chefs’ Forum Hospitality Industry Taster Day, packed with live demos and entertainment – ‘show us a stage and we’ll give you a show!’ West London College played host to the special student spectacular, with invited schools getting a sneak peek of what life in hospitality is like.

The worshipful Mayor of Hammersmith and Fulham, and former student of West London College, Patricia Quigley, came to open the event. She spoke of the importance of being able to cook and how lovely it was to see students from her constituency represented in such great numbers.

The demos were interspersed with fantastic music and dancing from Manchester rapper Lowkeylimit, Kit Sells and Jake Morgan.

Valentina Maschio from Gordon Ramsay Burger at Harrods built gourmet burgers, but not the sort most were used to. Valentina invited students to help her make a smash burger on the FlashGRILL, a new edition to the demo stage from MCS Technical Products.

She also introduced our brand new Unox Bakerlux convection oven which has been generously supplied by the market-leading oven manufacturer in creating some beautiful brioche buns, garnished with seeds and grains.

Aaj Fernando from The Ministry then took to the CookTek Helios double induction hobs to demonstrate how to make Asian gyoza dumplings, before Luigi Cagnin from The Ritz Hotel made perfect crêpe Suzette – the orange-flavoured pancake which is normally flambéed at the tableside.

Aaj also gave the students a butchery demo in the kitchen before the event using Aussie wagyu picanha which he has used in the Middle East and now at The Ministry in London. The young guests were able to try the wagyu beef in delicious canapés which were kindly sponsored by Meat & Livestock Australia.

As the demos were being performed, canapé-sized versions of the dishes were handed out to the students in the audience. They also got to try pineberries, physalis and seasonal root vegetables, butternut squash and celeriac, kindly sponsored by First Choice Produce and Valrhona chocolate.

A final mocktail competition with Nathaniel Morales, Assistant Restaurant Manager at Gouqi London completed the two-hour session that also included lunch, kindly sponsored by Premier Foods.

Jo Wyke, Brand Manager at Foodservice said: “I really enjoyed the event today. There was lots to taste and learn about. Premier Foods were delighted to sponsor pasta pots for lunch with our Homepride brand. As the event spanned over lunchtime, it was important to ensure that our young visitors had a substantial, nutritious lunch as well as all of the lovely canapés, mini sliders, fruit, chocolate, and mocktails.”

Head of Curriculum at West London College, Denise Charles, said: “We love these taster days that are organised by The Chefs’ Forum. They allow school students to come and visit and see what we do at the college and to get an insight into the sort of establishments we work with. It was great to work with Luigi from The Ritz and to sample Gordon Ramsay’s burgers. The cocktail competition with Nathaniel was also great fun.”

Catherine Farinha, Director of The Chefs’ Forum, said: “A huge thank you to all our participants and to West London College for their continued support. Aaj Fernando and Nathaniel Morales rounded out a brilliant morning and we love it when we can bring in such dedicated professionals from the best hotels and restaurants to work with schools and students. It’s what having a Chefs’ Forum Academy is all about.”

All the students who helped out with the demos won a subscription to CKBK, a fantastic online recipe repertoire of the finest cookbooks and the winners of the cocktail competition won dinner for two in college’s TASTE Restaurant.

There were past students showcased as success stories, as well as current students who had previously attended a taster day at the college in previous years. The work aims to increase the profile of careers in hospitality and catering, to make a valuable contribution to solving the chef shortage.

The local schools that attended the event were Cumberland School, Guru Nanak Sikh Academy, the Norwood School, Fulham Cross Academy, Haybrook College, Villiers High School, Dormers Wells High School, Greenford High School, and Featherstone High School.

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