Business Development Manager, Kay Derbyshire and Senior Business Development Chef, Jon Harvey-Barnes, headed to Stoke College on the 8th of June to assist the level 3 catering students in cooking up a 3 course meal. With the aim to support, educate and inspire future chefs, Jon and Kay worked alongside Stephen Heaton, Section Leader for hospitality, to coordinate and deliver stunning dishes using various techniques and Essential Cuisine products. We spoke to Stephen following the event to get his thoughts on the activity as well as how the pandemic has impacted the college.
How has the current climate affected your students and the curriculum?
It has affected everyone – loss of class time, input, experience. It is sad to think they will be known as the group, class of 20/21, that never got the chance to do a full year. But we have added extra hours into the cooking aspects over the last few months, spent lockdown on the theory aspects so we put more focus into cooking! I had many key employers talking online to the students, Q&A sessions, cooking demonstrations. We even had motivational speakers do 5 minute Monday morning videos to keep the spirits up and focus on each day as it happens, but this is the start of their careers and it’s what they do from here onwards that matters.
What has been the main learning from these unprecedented times?
Adapt, overcome, be resourceful, look for new ways and opportunities succeed! But most importantly never give in and look after yourself, both mentally and physically!
Following on from Essential Cuisine’s visit, how impactful was the experience for your students?
Very! The students got a lot from it, the ability to work with other chefs, to be taught different techniques and gain a greater knowledge and understanding of both kitchen life and the Essential Cuisine range. It is great to show them how they can adapt the products for various uses, this will hopefully stay with them as they enter the industry and they can introduce their skills as well as Essential Cuisine to their employers.
Do you have any advice for fellow food lecturers / teachers?
I would highly recommend working alongside Essential Cuisine and their chefs for the best ingredients and innovative ways to use their products in a professional kitchen. Showing the different styles and activities on offer was invaluable. Definitely have Jon and Kay, or any of their chef team for that matter, come and cook meals with your students, absolutely fantastic!
Do you have any advice for future chefs and people wanting enter the industry?
Come and join what is the best industry! You will see thousands of different things and have a thousand different experiences. You will get out far more the more you put in. Once you have the skills and knowledge to cook, you will always be in employment. Work hard and play harder!
Jonathan Harvey-Barnes followed on by saying “It has been a pleasure to watch these students progress through their education. We visited them at the beginning of their course to introduce them to Essential Cuisine and despite the hurdles that have been thrown their way, they continue to amaze us with their ambition and drive. We want to wish them the best of luck with their next steps, whatever they may be.”
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