The Staff Canteen Live College Tour at Coleg Cambria

The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 23rd January 2020

On January 22nd 2020, chefs Nick Bennett, Eve Townson, Gareth Stevenson and Matt Ramsdale joined us at Coleg Cambria for our first TSC Live College Tour event of the year - celebrating hospitality as a great career choice.

The Staff Canteen Live College Tour event was created to reach out to catering students considering a career in hospitality, to give them advice and inspiration about the industry. 

Also present at the event were The Staff Canteen partners, The Royal Academy of Culinary Arts and Springboard UK - as well as sponsor representatives from Koppert Cress, The Chester Grosvenor & The Mill Hotel, Sodiaal and 167 Catering regiment RL - all of whom students had the opportunity to talk with, handing out tasters and sharing information about their respective organisations. 

The chefs then took part in a panel discussion to tell their stories and talk about their own careers.

They told students about their 'Eureka moment' - when they realised that they wanted to be a chef; they discussed the importance of having good mentors and of considering different routes, and spoke about changes within the industry, likely to affect the students' careers. 

Then followed a Q&A during which the chefs answered the students' questions - ranging from their opinions on various trends and whether the 'practice makes perfect' mantra is really true, to their favourite meal. 

Students were entered into a raffle and two lucky winners were given a goodie bag including a TSC mug and a cookbook, and one was awarded the chance to stage at one of the panel chefs' restaurants. 


To thank them for giving up their time, the chefs and Coleg Cambria's deputy director for hospitality and tourism, Andy Woods, received gifts from our sponsors at Sharps Brewery and Nyetimber

Chefs and sponsors

Old Downton Lodge head chef Nick Bennett said he thought the event was "really beneficial for everyone."

"I really enjoyed talking to the students and telling them some stories about how great the hospitality industry is."

"It's really important for chefs of all levels to come into colleges to talk to students and showcase the different avenues that you can go down - you don't have to be a restaurant chef, you can be anything." 

"There's so much to learn and so much to achieve, the only way you can do that and get that message to students is to come into colleges and talk to them first hand." 

He said that he was uplifted by the good turnout, which he saw as a sign that the industry is attractive to young people.

"It's up to us as industry leaders and peers to grab them, look out for them and get them into the industry." 

Meanwhile, BE Chocolate and Patisserie limited founder Eve Townson, said: "I think the events that are run by The Staff Canteen are absolutely excellent for the students - there was nothing like this when I was their age and I think having such a well-respected company as The Staff Canteen that has such great connections to chefs of a real high level is absolutely brilliant." 

And although she conceded that there are a lot of misconceptions about the industry, she added: "I think there probably is some truth in some of it - but it's what people make of it."

"Yes the money can be rubbish but so can a lot of other careers and the thing is with catering and hospitality - it is hard work and it really is for those who are passionate and really want to do it, but it can open up the world to them, it can be absolutely fantastic." 

Jérôme Reignier, UK sales and marketing manager at Sodiaal UK, a new sponsor of our college tour series, said the event was "really well organised" with ample opportunity for students to try their products.

"It was great to engage with the students, we had very easy-flowing conversations about cheese, cream and how to use them - and what they deliver in a menu." 

"For a company like us it's very interesting to come and talk to the young chefs and try to engage on their future careers and give them information about our products." 


And finally, Gareth Stevenson, head chef at Palé Hall and an ex-student at Coleg Cambria - who has since been involved in several events there, said: "People can see - by interacting with me that there is a pathway, there is a career to be had and that you can take it further." 

"I started here twelve years ago, now I'm a chef at a five-star Relais & Chateaux property - so for them to know that it's actually achievable and that they can go on and do it is a big thing." 

"We are responsible for the next generation in the industry at the end of the day, and we need to take that on board and find ways to get the young people and the students enthusiastic about joining this sector and staying in this sector." 


The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 23rd January 2020

The Staff Canteen Live College Tour at Coleg Cambria