Junior Chefs show off their skills

28 Nov 2022

Junior Chef with their family

The winners of the West Suffolk Council and West Suffolk College Junior Chef competition completed their eight-week training course on Saturday 19 November.

The Junior Chef course aims to inspire and support young people looking at a future in the hospitality sector, it is an introductory stage programme specifically designed to give young people a chance to experience working in a professional kitchen.

The young chefs have spent the last eight weeks training in the professional kitchen at West Suffolk College, under the College’s Chef Manager, Stuart Ascott. Each week saw a new dish being prepared, by the end of the course the students had learnt the art of preparing and cooking fresh food to service techniques.

Edmunds restaurant at West Suffolk College was buzzing with anticipation on Saturday as the students had invited their friends and family along so they could show off their new talents. Behind the kitchen doors the young chefs remained calm and professional as they worked under pressure to cook up a storm.

The course received rave reviews from the families of the young chefs. Grandparents of one student said, “The whole occasion was first class, and we think West Suffolk College is a remarkable place.” Their praise for the College continued, noting how refreshing it was to see a partnership working to benefit all ages.  

A parent said the course “exceeded our expectations and we feel grateful that our child had this experience. He couldn’t wait for each Saturday to come around and he was lively and enthusiastic after each session.” 

The proof is in the pudding, with one student saying “I liked learning new skills and new recipes whilst working in a professional kitchen. Chef Stuart was a good teacher as he was encouraging and helpful.”

Due to the outstanding quality of the entries submitted for the competition, additional funding was sourced in order for the runners up to also take part in the course in the new year. 

The bursaries for this course were made available through West Suffolk Council who secured funding from Suffolk Growth for a project focused on changing perceptions of the hospitality sector and the visitor economy in West Suffolk. The project was delivered in partnership with West Suffolk College. 

Cllr Susan Glossop, Cabinet Member for Growth said “It was wonderful to visit the students at the start of the course, and to come back now and see how much they have improved is amazing. Attending the final session and hearing how much the children have valued the opportunity to develop skills and learn new recipes demonstrates how important it is to encourage all age groups to think about the future and the careers they wish to take.”

Claire Waterson, Operations Manager, Culinary Arts Academy, West Suffolk College said “The smiles on the faces of the children and families was a real delight to witness! The aim of the initiative is to inspire and encourage younger children to get excited about the hospitality sector and judging from the course feedback, this has certainly been achieved.” 

This project is part-funded by the European Social Fund.

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