Chefs' Forum Academy Blog 8 - Cooking and Coarse Fishing at Old Swan and Minster Mill
Top chefs from the Cotswolds gathered at Old Swan & Minster Mill for a spot of coarse fishing and cookery demos by host chef David Kelman. As a Chefs’ Forum Committee Member, Kelman has always been instrumental in binding together top chefs from across the Cotswolds and Bath area and ensuring opportunity is offered to the next generation in welcoming young chefs and front of house professionals into his kitchen.
Students from Gloucestershire College and City of Oxford College attended in force, which bode very well as they have now finished for the summer. When young people put themselves forward to attend industry events like this one in their own time, the employers and The Chefs’ Forum management team can’t help but be impressed.
The day began with students and teaching staff meeting at the 18th century mill for a briefing by David on the tasks that lay ahead. The first activity on the agenda however, was to harvest 200 crayfish from the River Windrush that borders the hotel’s stunningly manicured gardens.
Gloucestershire College (GC) is home to the second Chefs’ Forum Academy. First launched at Weston College in September 2016, GC came on board in January 2017. The initiative sees top chefs from all over the country come into the college to teach various specialisms on a weekly basis, from foraging to game cookery, pastry to menu planning and development. Today’s event was an extension of this, where the students got to visit and work with David in his work environment. Events like this are great to reassure students that although often very grand, venues like the Mill offer fantastic career opportunities to students and that, if they work hard enough, they have every chance of securing a job at such a venue.
Mark Hyde-Catton, Chef Lecturer at Gloucestershire College said:
“Since the launch of The Chefs’ Forum Academy at the college, it has been noticeable how much more engaged and enthusiastic students are about their course. They have nothing but positive feedback about the master classes and opportunities it opens up for them, including securing work experience with high profile employers. I am delighted to say that the students chase me for the next opportunity or details of forthcoming Chefs’ Forum events - gone are the days when lecturing staff have to badger them to attend things!”.
“This year, we are running the new City & Guilds Level 3 Technical Diplomas in Professional Cookery 6100, which requires employer engagement as a crucial element to students achieving the qualification. The Academy offers staff and students the opportunity to fulfil course criteria with minimum stress and without the need to send students off on block work experience”.
Offering accommodation to work experience candidates, The Old Swan is an attractive option for students when considering their options to enrich their learning to become industry-ready.
Beverley Molmans, Regional General Manager at Brownsword Hotels stated:
“Holding events like this here at the Mill really galvanise our links with local catering colleges. It was great to see so many students attending from Gloucestershire and City of Oxford Colleges and I would welcome work experience applications from both. It was great to see David mentoring the kitchen students and I was very impressed with the level of professionalism displayed by the front of house students. I look forward to working with The Chefs’ Forum on future events to further-build on the relationship between Brownsword Hotels and local catering colleges”.
David echoed Beverley’s comments in expressing how impressed he was by the students’ attitude and willingness to get involved in the day.
“It was brilliant to see the students working so efficiently and in groups to create the canapés, harvest the crayfish and assist with the BBQ today. I was overwhelmed with the number of students who attended in their own time, which is a great sign for the future of the industry. I saw some really strong students today and would be delighted to welcome them back into my kitchen in the future”.
Other highlights of the day included a fantastic butchery demonstration by Jack cook of Walter Rose & Son, where Jack showcased various beef steak cuts including rump, sirloin, tomahawk and spider steak. Jack also showcased ways in which off-cuts can be used for other dishes. The Butcher’s Shop of the Year winner 2016 is a major ally of top chefs across the country supplying optimum quality meat and expert advice to chefs as standard.
Jack’s choice cuts were then cooked in a glorious BBQ showcasing the Windrush crayfish and trout on the Rexmartins outdoor modular kitchen. The Chefs’ Forum team then served the delicious morsels to chefs as they received a masterclass in coarse fishing by Stuart Daniels, keen fisherman and also a chef at The Old Swan.
To round off the day, Beverly and the team at The Old Swan and Minster Mill kindly laid-on a complimentary ice cream van to serve delicious ice cream to the chefs and students along with stunning afternoon canapés that had been prepared by David and the students in the morning – A perfect end to a very inspiring day!