Student chefs test their cookery skills on staff

Students at Ashfield School have been preparing  a Christmas Carvery. Craig Harrison demonstrates how to flambe
Students at Ashfield School have been preparing a Christmas Carvery. Craig Harrison demonstrates how to flambe

Students at Ashfield School are cooking up a storm after enrolling onto the first chef qualification of its type to be offered at a school.

The Kirkby school is the first in the country to run the British Institute of Inn Keepers Association’s Pub Chef Operations course.

The course trains students in the essential skills that will enable them to walk into a job or apprenticeship in the catering sector of the licensed hospitality trade.

Julie Taylor, assistant head of vocational education at Ashfield School, said that they had not been sure how the course would be received by students but it is proving very successful.

“Cooking and food is relevant for all of us but for some young people, if you don’t know exactly what you are wanting to do, it’s an option that will stay relevant all your life,” she said.

“Also we have such in-house expertise we thought we could launch the course and do it well.”

The course is part of the school’s Hospitality and Catering Academy and teaches students the theory of basic cooking, the legislation and regulations required to work in a pub and the systems of operation of hospitality chains in the UK such as Greene King.

The Derbyshire Hotel in South Normanton is backing the course and some students will have the chance of doing work experience there.

Teacher Craig Harrison is an experienced chef who has worked as sous chef at Woodborough Hall and was the culinary arts director at New College Nottingham.

“It‘s going really well,” he said.

“The students are surprised how good it is.”

As part of the course the students prepare food for the Hospitality and Catering Academy’s cafe - which school staff go to for their lunch - and cater for various events.

They cook carveries from scratch - including a Christmas dinner carvery during December - and learn front of house skills while serving the food they produce.

They are even doing the catering for the staff Christmas do - a buffet for 100 people.

Craig said: “It gives them life skills and prepares them for employment.

“It also changes staff’s opinions of students to see them doing a carvery and to see the quality of food they cook.”

The catering facilities available at Ashfield School give the students an excellent opportunity to put the theory of being a pub chef into practice and as well as building confidence, being on the course has helped one student progress in her part-time job at a local pub.

Being ready for employment in what is a growing sector is one of the big advantages of the qualification.

Craig added: “We are providing skills for a sector that needs it desperately as there is a skills shortage in this area.”