Autumn 2008: Full steam ahead

12/04/2013 11:04
Plans are well underway for the makeover of Carlisle College, winner of this year's Nestlé Toque d'Or challenge, which will help to give catering students the state of the art facilities and the recognition they deserve.

The revamp of the college, which was approved by the National Capital Committee of the Learning Skills Council back in 2006, is set to be complete by 2010 and aims to help raise the quality and improve the choice of learning opportunities for all its students.

“The new design will offer facilities including state of the art kitchens, a mobile cookery unit, and a cooking theatre – particularly useful for seminars. Guests will also have the option of watching students in action in the kitchen from a plasma screen in the restaurant area or by a panoramic window,” says chef lecturer Andy Stacey.

“These kitchens have been designed purely for demonstration purposes and our aim is to invite more chefs and members of the public to eat in our restaurant.”

The college offers a mix of vocational and academic education to more than 6,000 students, covering entry-level courses through to foundation degrees, and B.Eng (Hons) in engineering. Teaching more than 100 catering students, the college provides different methods of study, making it more accessible to more people with courses such as daytime, distance learning, short courses and apprenticeships available.

The centre operates three trade kitchens: two which are practical and the other for production. The two kitchens used for practical purposes can hold in excess of 35 students while the production area can accommodate 14.

Headed by lecturer Peter Wilkinson, the 45-cover Thyme Out restaurant is open to the public on Tuesdays from 6- 9pm, and Thursdays from 12-2pm. It offers a wide variety of food from traditional classic dishes to modern, fine dining cuisine, all served by aspiring chefs. First year students are taught how to devise dishes including consommé brunoise, fillets of sole Veronique, lamb cutlets Milanaise, and Cabinet pudding. Explaining the importance of the first level of this course, Stacey says: “Once the students have the classical skills, they have got every tool in the box.”

The chefs then move on to create dishes such as oriental cucumber and salmon salad with dill, Connemara broth with pasta, and nougat glace Creole with a mixed berry coulis. Third year students are taught about more complex, fine dining cuisine such as how to create a pot roast belly of pork with marinated vegetables or spiced brûlée with palm sugar.

But it is not only the building and facilities that are getting an extensive makeover. “We are also discussing plans to develop a website specifically for the catering department. We aim to make it accessible not just for students and lecturers at Carlisle, but for people outside the college,” says Stacey. “We are hoping to include a section on forthcoming events, competitions and trips the college will be participating in, recipes created by our students, as well as a selection of menus that can be found at the college's restaurant.”

Aside from training, the college is also looking into running a work placement scheme later in the year.

Success stories are a massive hit with the college, with former Carlisle students such as Scott Price taking a lead role as sous chef at London's Claridge's Hotel and James Hill worked under Angela Hartnett at The Connaught. Plus winning the Toque d'Or title this year has been an impressive achievement for Carlisle. But by being a proactive catering department, as Stacey describes it, the college students have battled it out in past at competitions such as the North West Chef of the Year and the Grimsby Seafood challenge.

With new facilities on the horizon, the future looks good.

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