10 Minutes With: Shane Guildford, Chef Lecturer, Cheshire College South and West

The Staff Canteen

Shane Guildford is a chef lecturer at Cheshire College South and West which was named as the AA College Restaurant of The Year in 2017.

Almost 12 months ago, chef and lecturer, Shane Guildford heard the news that his college restaurant, the Academy Restaurant at Cheshire College South and West, had been named AA College Restaurant of the Year. 

The Staff Canteen spoke to Shane about what this win means to him, how it has benefitted the college and why he loves to help young chefs fulfil their culinary dreams.

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Busy in the kitchen

Shane Guildford’s first kitchen experience was washing dishes at a local restaurant, it was here where he was asked by the owners if he would be interested in becoming a chef. The young Shane politely declined their offer, as he was hoping to follow in his dad’s footsteps and work for Rolls-Royce as a paint finisher.

However fate played a part and due to redundancies being made at the car giant, Shane took up the offer with The Olde Jack as an apprentice chef and enrolled in his local college – South Cheshire College in Crewe to study how to be a chef. He cites the subsequent two years as ‘one of the hardest working years of his life’ as he was attending college full time as well as working at the restaurant. 

“It was very tiring," he said. "But extremely worthwhile. What I took from that place I’ll never forget, it gave me such a footing to build on. I have gone back to work there on three separate occasions, and I’ll tell you what – I’d do it all over again too and listen twice as hard!”

Little did Shane know that his culinary career would take him back to that very same college, now rebranded as Cheshire College South and West, where he now works as a chef-lecturer and has been doing so for 16 years. In this role, Shane oversees a range of courses for trainee and beginner chefs, teaching them theoretical and practical classes using innovative teaching methods.

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Eton Mess

Shane is also responsible for dish development as well as honing his skills in more specific areas such as molecular gastronomy and says that no two days are the same!

Teaching new generations of chefs is one of Shane’s favourite elements of his role. 

He said: “Imparting knowledge to trainee chefs who are hanging off your every word – there is no greater feeling. Knowing that you are helping so many young adults to achieve their dreams is a special feeling.”

Shane changes the menu at the Academy every two to four weeks and describes his culinary style as seasonal and flavoursome; creating modern classics with a modern, sometimes molecular and re-invented twist. Such is the success of restaurant (which is a fully commercial restaurant that caters for up to 120 guests) it was awarded the prestigious title of ‘AA College Restaurant of the Year 2017’.

Shane explained: “The last 12 months has probably one of the most exhilarating and yet surreal 12 months of my (and the teams) career! Not only did we win AA College Restaurant of the Year, but we also won a highly commended AA Rosette (which is the equivalent to 2 industry AA Rosettes) - the highest award that a college restaurant can achieve. The college was awarded Gold Accreditation and was named as a Centre of Excellence for our food and beverage service.”

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AA College Restaurant
Of The Year

He added: “The feeling when we won was elation, the team, the students and indeed everyone at the college were on cloud nine! I also won Pearson’s Teacher of the Year award too, so I was on the crest of a wave – absolutely blown away.”

The last year has been a whirlwind, but Shane wouldn’t have it any other way!  revealed:

He said: “Well, you’ve heard of ‘feet not touched the ground’, 'breath-taking' - take your pick out of either of them. The restaurant looks fantastic, the department continues to grow, and student numbers continue to increase.

“Our gourmet evenings are booked up three months in advance, external functions and commercial contracts are increasing – some fantastic collaborations Luke Thomas and Damien Wager to name but a few with some amazing chefs confirmed for this year. But, we’re never satisfied, we are always looking to strive for more, to take our food and ideas to another level”

The guest chef collaborations are key to helping inspire and develop not just the students, but Shane and his team too and this has seen the likes of Mark Hix and Chantelle Nicholson undertake collaborations so far.

But does Shane feel that there needs to be more done to encourage young chefs into the industry via routes like college?

“I do yes," he said. "As we’re an educational establishment funding is always high on the request list, sadly that’s out of my hands. However, we have taken the decision to go fully commercially based, so we can actually have and be proud of our own sustainable department.”

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The heat is on

He added: “I’m in the very fortunate position that both of my bosses are/were chefs – this helps enormously as their drive and passion transcend through to all of us.

"The classics still needs to be taught,  but we jazz up and inject fresh enthusiasm into our learners by incorporating more and more molecular gastronomy, modern patisserie, mirror glazed desserts etc. As such and because of our all-around study programme package, our hospitality courses increase each year.”

Shane says he would encourage other colleges to go for the AA Award and said: "There are many benefits including the growth of intake on your courses, growth of income to make your department more sustainable when funding continues to be cut. It gives you a greater pull to increase opportunities for guest chefs to come and spend time with your learners.”

Shane is grateful to his colleagues past and present who have helped him to get where he is and said: “Professionally, I’d like to thank my first two head chef’s, Geoff Hancock and Robin Benson for putting me on the culinary path I’ve been on and the whole hospitality team at the college for their continued support.

"My two Directors Mark Parsons and Dan Hunter who support and push me in equal measure; Mark especially – the principal for his support and belief. On a personal level, my wife Alison for her continued love and support – she deserves a medal! Lastly, my mum, dad and family and my beautiful baby boy Bodhi and daughter Chelsea – all of which I’d be lost without”

* For more information on Cheshire College South and West and to apply go to www.ccsw.ac.uk
 or call 01270 654654

By Emma Harrison


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Editor 14th September 2018

10 Minutes With: Shane Guildford, Chef Lecturer, Cheshire College South and West