The competition is heating up for Newcastle College hospitality students as they prepare for the next crucial stage of the AA College Restaurant of the year competition.
The Chefs’ Academy, which is run entirely by students, is in the running to win the title after it was awarded a Highly Commended AA College Rosette in December.
Delivered in partnership between the AA and People 1st, the College Rosette scheme recognises quality food and exceptional service in College restaurants. The prestigious Highly Commended title is the highest level of the award and is given to those colleges with restaurants of the best quality and with notable links to industry – those which could compete within a true restaurant environment.
Dave Simpson, Restaurant Manager of The Chefs’ Academy said: “Newcastle College prides itself on delivering unique vocational education, developed in partnership with industry and with a focus on experiencing real working environments.
“The Chefs’ Academy is a vibrant, real-working environment which allows our students to hone their skills in a fine-dining setting and often alongside chefs and guests from our industry partners.
“To achieve a Highly Commended College Rosette for the restaurant and to make it through to the next round of the AA College Restaurant of the Year competition is a brilliant achievement and I have faith that our students can win the title.”
The Chefs’ Academy is the only North East college restaurant to make it past the initial round of the competition, producing a video which showcases its hospitality courses. It is one of just 15 colleges across the country to enter the next stage.
Andy Doyle, Membership Operations Manager of People 1st International and a member of the competition judging panel, commented: “This is the fourth year we have run this competition and yet again the standard of the entries has been very high.
“The colleges have produced some fantastic videos showing the diversity of careers available in the hospitality sector and profiling the great opportunities available for learners to enter this industry with the support of the colleges and their excellent teams of lecturers.
“The judges are all looking forward to seeing the presentations at the next stage and meeting the teams. I know it will be an enjoyable and uplifting day for all involved.”
The next stage of the competition will take place at the Park Plaza County Hall in London on Thursday 20 June and will task students with delivering a presentation to the judging panel on the necessary skills for a successful career in hospitality.
Representing Newcastle College will be Daisy Ainsworth, currently studying Contemporary Hospitality and Katie Robson, a Professional Cookery student. The pair recently won a gold medal at this year’s North East Culinary Trade Association (NECTA) competition, working as a duo in the Cook and Serve event and are used to performing together under pressure.
Daisy said: “I’m really excited to have the chance to represent the College. I don’t feel too nervous because myself and Katie both know we can rely on each other.
“I love the Chefs’ Academy and being able to work here. It has taught me everything I know, so I hope we can win it for Dave and the rest of the team.”
Entry to the competition follows Newcastle College’s hospitality department being named a Centre of Excellence for Food and Beverage and Patisserie and Confectionary with Gold accreditation.
The endorsement identifies the state-of-the-art facilities and follows a £45,000 investment into the bakery in 2018, transforming the area into a fully functioning teaching and learning environment for patisserie students.
Key to The Chefs’ Academy success and the quality of the courses on offer at the College are its links with industry. Ahead of its accreditation, local employers including 21 Group, Copthorne Hotel Newcastle and Pleased to Meet You, joined inspectors to endorse their relationship with the College and discuss the work experience opportunities on offer to hospitality and tourism students.
Ken Ellington, General Manager of Copthorne Hotel Newcastle said: “We’ve enjoyed a close and highly productive working relationship with Newcastle College for the past seven years, focusing on student placements, event support, hotel visits for student groups and an annual two-day takeover event each spring, involving up to 45 students working across a variety of departments and running events.
“We have also employed a number of students at the hotel, both during their courses and after graduation, spotting talent and potential at an early stage, and working with the College to ensure a seamless transition from education into employment’.
Regular diners at the restaurant, Pat Hill and Cicely Peyton, have been sampling lunch at the Chefs’ Academy for a number of years and added: “It has always been great here, especially the views. “Dave is wonderful, a great manager and tutor. The students are always lovely and polite and the standard of food is always amazing.
“We recommend it to friends and are worried we won’t be able to get booked in because it’s so popular.”