Cambridge Regional College win ‘A Passion to Inspire’ 2016

The Staff Canteen

The heat was most certainly on in the training kitchens at the College of West Anglia on Tuesday, 7 June , as catering and hospitality teams from the College of West Anglia, West Suffolk College, Cambridge Regional College, Colchester Institute and City College Norwich competed for the title of ‘A Passion to Inspire’ winners, 2016.

Murray Chapman, Founder

After a tough competition, Cambridge Regional College - made up of chefs Gemma Steele and Alice Clayden and front of house Mathew Dawson – were named the winners.

On winning, Matthew Dawson said: “This was my first competition and overall it’s been a really good experience. It’s been difficult and quite stressful but still really fun.

“We were given a list of ingredients, price list and budget to stick to and from that the girls created our menu; infusing flavours together. I was nervous; in terms of nerves, this competition was on par with my driving test but it’s a great thing to be involved with and the girls have worked so hard!”

The teams prepared a three course meal, to be served by a front of house team member with one of the three courses containing an element that was prepared at the table. Their food was judged by some of the best employers and chefs across the country: Shara Ross - General Manager of Hotel Felix , Mark Poynton –Chef/Patron of Restaurant Alimentum , Eric Snaith - Head Chef  at Titchwell Manor, Russell Bateman – Head Chef of Colettes - The Grove Hotel, Nick Mills - Director at Brasteds and Nick Claxton Webb – Head Chef at Congham Hall.

To reach the final, the teams of three students from each of the five colleges had to come through an earlier round of heats, with over 90 students being involved and inspired. The student teams were each made up of two chefs and one front of house member. Prior to the final, each student team was paired with a top local chef as their mentor for the final.

A Passion to Inspire is designed to create strong links between cookery schools and local employers.

Richard Russum, who sponsors the chef jackets and uniform, said: “This is one of the few competitions that mixes students with mentoring and the industry. It really drives up the standards and really showcases what the college can put out there.”

Judge, Russell Bateman

Russell Bateman was judging for the first time this year and said: “I’m here because I have a keen interest in young chefs’ development; to see what talent there is in the area, how they use the skills they have learnt from their colleges and mentors and see how that can be used in a commercial kitchen.”

This year’s special guest was Adam Smith – Acorn and Roux Scholarship winner, with four AA rosettes at the Devonshire Arms to his name and now moving to The Coworth Park Hotel (part of the Dorchester Collection).

He said: “I was the same age as these competitors when I took part in my first catering competition. It’s good to be involved with these sorts of events as I think it is important to help inspire the next generation of chefs. We always need to bring new people into the restaurant workforce, so it’s imperative that the younger generation are excited about food and ‘A Passion to Inspire’ encompasses that.”

Aside from taking the prestigious culinary title, Cambridge Regional College, also won a chance to attend this year’s Skills for Chefs Conference in Sheffield, on 6 and 7 July, with accommodation. The event will be attended by fantastic chefs such as Nathan Outlaw, Richard Bainbridge, Graham Garrett, Rob Kennedy and Mick Burke to name but a few.

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The Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 14th June 2016

Cambridge Regional College win ‘A Passion to Inspire’ 2016