College serves up dining success

Northumberland College hospitality and catering students with guest chef David Kennedy, second left. Picture by Trevor Walker
Northumberland College hospitality and catering students with guest chef David Kennedy, second left. Picture by Trevor Walker

Success is already on the menu at Northumberland College’s fine dining restaurant.

Since opening in 2015, the college has developed a programme of work experience for hospitality students that includes visits by leading guest chefs, plus a farm to fork approach that is unique within the North East.

Andy Brown, head of the college’s Hospitality and Catering Academy, said: “Having a strong and varied industry based enrichment programme is central to how students’ learning is developed. Giving them the opportunity to see and be involved in as many varied opportunities as possible. And that’s where learning about produce and guest chefs comes in.”

Guests chefs at the restaurant, named The Gallery, have included former student Jonathon McManus, from Alnwick Castle, Martin Charlton, from The Boat House, Blyth, and head chef David Kennedy, from Pleased to Meet You, Newcastle.

David said: “It is great to get involved with what Andy and his team are trying to achieve at Northumberland College.

“It is vital students on hospitality courses are educated in a rounded way which gives exposure to all elements of the industry.

“These young people are the future of our industry and it’s crucial we support their development in any way we can.”

Hospitality students collaborate with the college’s horticulture department, which means fresh, local seasonal produce is being used in a range of the restaurant’s dishes.

The latest harvest included apples, to be made into chutney and sold in the college’s food outlets, pumpkins and squashes for use in soup and tomatoes, baby aubergines, runner beans and leeks.

Andy said; “We want students to be proud of where they come from and have a full understanding of the products that are produced in Northumberland as well as be aware of current trends in the hospitality industry.

“Facilities at the college’s Kirkley Hall campus give us a unique opportunity to teach our students about food origins. Working in collaboration with the farm and horticulture department we can offer this farm to fork ethos, no other catering students in the region have that opportunity.”

This September, the college became one of the first to introduce Level 2 technical qualifications and Level 3 will follow next year.

Andy added: “Academic study programmes are already well established and following the Sainsbury review that put forward recommendations to UK government, a new framework of technical pathways is being introduced in the UK to provide an equally rigorous Level 3 technical study programme. For us the new qualification will further improve links with employers in the sector.”

In April, the college was the overall winner in the North East Culinary and Trade Association competition where students secured five gold, four silver and 12 bronze medals.

The Gallery restaurant offers evening sittings twice a week, as well as a full lunch menu on weekdays, afternoon tea, a children’s menu and, from November 29 until December 21, it will be serving Christmas lunches and evening dinners.