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Young chefs celebrate 55-medal haul in International Salon Culinaire competition

Student chefs won an outstanding 55 medals as Westminster Kingsway College was named the highest achieving college at this year’s International Salon Culinaire.

More than 600 chefs took part in the culinary challenge, considered one of the world’s top competitions for chefs, at the Hotel, Restaurant and Catering event at ExCel London in March.

WestKing’s students achieved three gold, 37 silver and 16 bronze medals and two certificates of merit, in various culinary skills challenges.

Among the college’s top performers were Professional Chef Diploma students Taylor Muller and Kaleisha Gordon, both 18, who each won a gold medal and best in class.

Taylor was awarded for her lamb and Kaleisha for her petit fours.

Kaleisha said: “I felt very excited to be chosen to participate in the competition and I really wanted to prove to myself that I was good enough. I was very happy when I won gold and knew all my hard work had paid off.

“The competition pushed me to really show my skills. We only had a week to prepare so I made a plan of everything and stayed behind at college every evening to practise.

“What I love most about cooking is the creativity and being able to express myself through my dishes. I enjoy challenging myself and seeing how far I can push myself.

“The college has prepared me well for the working world. It’s given me more confidence in the kitchen and helped me discover so much about myself.”

Also among the winners was Commis Chef apprentice Cameron Jones, 18, who won a gold medal for his amuse-bouche and a silver for his lemon sole filleting.

Other medallists included Marli Carter, 19, and Jess Erskine, 18, who were both presented with silver medals and named best in class for their deserts and pastries respectively.

Miranda Quantrill, Curriculum Manager for Hospitality and Culinary Arts, said: “We were thrilled to have been the highest achieving college at this year’s Salon Culinaire and are immensely proud of all our students and apprentices.

“For many of them, it was their first time taking part in such a highly regarded competition against other colleges, restaurants and hotels, so to take home more than 50 medals is a fantastic achievement. They are a credit to themselves, their mentors, their teachers and the college.”

Michelin-star chef Michel Roux Jr presented medals and certificates to the winners of the competition, which was judged by some of the UK’s most renowned chefs.

Steve Munkley, Director of International Salon Culinaire, said: “Salon Culinaire 2022 was an outstanding success, with all the theatre kitchens buzzing from early doors until the last competition.

“As Salon Director I was so proud to see the industry showing off its professionalism, hunger and tenacity, not letting anything stand in the way of getting us back on track and cooking. An amazing show.”

WestKing is one of the country’s top colleges for learning cooking and the culinary arts. As well as having great contacts with high-quality hospitality employers, which helps students get good jobs when they finish their studies, we also support students into culinary competitions like the Salon Culinaire, which is amazing preparation for their future careers.

Find out more and apply now for hospitality and culinary arts courses and hospitality apprenticeships.

Aim high and shoot for your dreams at CONEL

Students can net themselves fantastic skills on and off the court at the College of Haringey, Enfield and North East London (CONEL) this September.

A new Netball Academy, affiliated to England Netball, has been launched at the college’s Enfield Centre, which is also home to a Football Academy, Basketball Academy and Martial Arts Academy.

The Sports Academies are open to all students aged 16-18 who are studying a full-time course at the centre in Hertford Road, that includes a fully equipped gym, sports hall and changing facilities.

They will compete in college leagues and tournaments, receive a free training kit, professional coaching, fitness training, sports analysis and medical support.

Students will also benefit from work placement opportunities and receive complimentary tickets to high-profile sports events.

Elite athletes can apply for a bursary worth up to £2,500 to help cover the cost of other sports services, equipment and travel.

Jonathan Silman, Head of School for Sport, said: “From netball and basketball to football and martial arts, we have a range of Sports Academies to take part in alongside your studies.

“Each of our academies is partnered with a professional organisation to give you the best training, advice, training and support in your chosen sport. I believe they are the best college sports facilities in London.”

CONEL offers a wide range of courses for school leavers at its centres in Enfield and Tottenham, including courses in Accounting, Business, Construction, Childcare, Creative Media, Computing, Engineering, Hairdressing, Beauty Therapy, Health and Social Care, Music, Public Services, Science, Sport and Travel and Tourism.

The college also offers A Levels at Enfield with CONEL’s sister college, City and Islington College.

Adults aged 19 and over can also study these courses as well as other qualifications in Counselling and Teacher Education, which are all free up to Level 2 along, with many free short courses.

The college even offers Access to Higher Education Diplomas for adults looking to go to university and English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) courses.

Apprenticeships are also available for all ages in a wide range of career paths with top industry employers, as well as employability courses to support people get into work.

Apply now for courses and apprenticeships.

A Level student rejected by 16 colleges fulfils university dream

A student has told how City and Islington College (CANDI) gave him the chance to achieve his ambition of going to university after he was rejected by more than a dozen other colleges.

Eman Ahamed, 20, is studying for an MEng Mathematical Computation at Imperial College London after achieving A* grades in Maths and Further Maths and an A in Computer Science in his A Levels last summer.

He recalled how he persuaded his future maths teacher at CANDI to test his ability when he came to enrol at the college’s Sixth Form College in Angel in August 2019.

Eman had been turned down by 16 colleges and sixth forms to study A Levels because he did not have five 9-4 grades at GCSE despite passes in English and Maths and other qualifications.

“I was about to give up, and then I came to CANDI. I explained my situation and asked him to give me a test and a chance to prove myself,” he said.

“I scored 100 per cent. He was clearly impressed and asked if I also wanted to do Further Maths. He tested me again and I got 100 per cent in that as well. “ 

Eman, from Tower Hamlets, also passed a computing test and was offered a place at CANDI.

He retook his GCSEs in English and Maths during his first year of A Levels and increased his grades to 6 and 9 respectively. 

Eman’s family moved from Bangladesh to Italy when he was three and remained there until he finished primary school before returning to Bangladesh where he learnt English at school. 

While at CANDI he took part in mentoring programmes with Lloyds and an investment bank Macquarie and also gained work experience at Google and Facebook.

“I’m really grateful to CANDI because they treated me as an individual and not as a just a statistic. From the moment they gave me a chance, I knew I had to take it,” said Eman.

“From the day I enrolled I received huge support from my teachers. If it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t be at university right now and it would’ve been a completely different story.” 

Apply now to study A Level courses at CANDI this September.

Nigerian chef hopes award win will inspire black female chefs

A Nigerian chef who trained at Westminster Kingsway College hopes to inspire more black female chefs after being recognised for her success since leaving college.

Opy Odutayo, 25, from Harrow, was named a Successful Former Students winner in the annual Professional Association for Catering Education (PACE) awards.

She studied for a Grand Escoffier Diploma at WestKing and was named Best Overall International student before completing an MSc Food Business Management at the University of West London.

Opy is now a chef at Mortimer House members club in Fitzrovia and is also the co-founder of Ice Cream & Ting, which makes and sells ice creams with Afro-Caribbean flavours.

She said: “This award is especially important to me as a black African woman. When I started, I was always comparing myself and saying I’m not good enough. I hope winning this award will inspire and raise the profile of other black female chefs.

“I don’t see many black female chefs being recognised and getting these kinds of awards, so it feels so good to receive it and know that all my hard work, learning and pushing myself in the kitchen is starting to pay off.”

Miranda Quantrill, Curriculum Manager at WestKing, who taught Opy when she studied at the college from 2018-19, nominated her for the PACE award.

She said: ‘’Opy is a fantastic role model. She has always worked extremely hard in everything she has done. She is an inspiration to those wishing to pursue a career in hospitality alongside education. I am proud to have been her tutor and it’s wonderful to see her continue to flourish as an entrepreneur and one of our acclaimed alumni.”

Opy grew up in Lagos, Nigeria, and knew at the age of six she wanted to be a chef. After studying for a business economics degree in Ghana she moved to the UK in 2016.

While at WestKing, Opy helped Miranda at Billingsgate Seafood School at weekends and undertook a two-month work placement at three Michelin-star Galvin restaurants in London.

“Coming from Nigeria, I didn’t know anything about British food or French cuisine. I was just a blank slate coming with my hands open to learn,” said Opy.

“Miranda was a great teacher. If I was struggling, she would always tell me not to be scared and tell me I could do it. She took everyone along with her and made sure nobody was left behind.

“I truly enjoyed my time at WestKing. It gave me the foundation to grow and get to where I am today. Even now, when I need to know how to do something, it all leads back to my course. I still have my notes and use them today.”

“When people ask me about colleges I recommend, I always say WestKing – it’s the best place.”

Opy began her career working with fellow WestKing alum Ben Murphy at the Launceston Place in Kensington, AllBright members club in Mayfair and Nutshell in Westminster.

She featured in the 2020 Made You Look exhibition and hosted her own menu at the Carousel in Marylebone, which led to working with Future Plate, a company offering curated Afro-Caribbean fine dining events.

“This award has been an added motivation for me,” said Opy, who nearly quit being a chef after working excessively long hours at the start of her career.

“I often ask myself what is true meaning of success? I honestly don’t feel I’m there yet, but I’m my own worst critic. But when I look back, particularly in terms of confidence, I’m a completely different person now to when I started. I feel very proud of what I have achieved.”

Apply now for Hospitality and Culinary Arts courses.

‘CANDI’s Careers Service guided me through all my options and the best steps to take for my future’

City and Islington College’s Careers Service provides a wealth of information, support and guidance whether you’re looking to go to university or get into work. A Level student Lale Hanalp, 17, explains how the service has helped her gain new skills and boosted her prospects.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I am studying A Levels in Politics, Psychology and English Literature. I hope to go on to university and study law and eventually become a corporate lawyer. I am interested in politics and current affairs, enjoy reading psychological thrillers and like watching true-crime documentaries and reality TV. At CANDI, I am also the Student Careers Journalist for the college’s Get Ahead newsletter.

Did you know much about how to get into your chosen career before you spoke to the Careers Service?

No, not really. I had a general idea of what kind of career I would like to go into, but I wasn’t aware of what I needed to do and how to go that extra mile to get there.

How has the Careers Services team’s knowledge and expertise helped you plan for your future?

The careers advisers guided me through all my options and the best steps you need to take to get there. They were very helpful and gave their honest opinion for me to make the best decisions to better myself. They’ve provided amazing opportunities to gain insight and experience with employers and offered support with writing CVs and personal statements.

What activities and events have the Careers Service put on that have helped you?

One of the opportunities presented to me was Career Ready, a national charity that works with employers and colleges to support young people get skills for their careers. You’re paired with a business mentor according to your career ambitions, to develop your skills and experience. I was placed with a corporate solicitor who gave me a professional view and new perspectives on what the job involves and helped me with setting my career goals.

The Careers Service also runs a group called Legal Action, which has included sessions with universities, law firms and other organisations. We’ve had a visit by The University of Law about types of legal professions and a talk by a student studying intellectual property law. There have also been careers days with international law firm Herbert Smith Freehills about its five-year Network Scholars Programme, and with Banks & Partners Solicitors about criminal law. We’ve also heard from the Met Police about getting into the policing and from UCL on law degrees.

Tell us how one of these activities has helped develop you personally.

I have applied to be part of the Herbert Smith Freehills Networked Scholarship Scheme. It really piqued my interest because I know it would be an incredible experience that I would benefit from. Being a mentee for an employee at the law firm, I will be able to get extensive advice on what to do and support with my upcoming decisions to help me map my future out more clearly.

I recently took part in activities as part of a careers day hosted by the firm about the scheme, that also included activities to improve teamwork and leadership skills and build our confidence. This included being part of a group defending an employee in a hypothetical unfair dismissal case study where I gave the closing statement. This is not something I would normally do, but I pushed myself out of my comfort zone and now feel more inclined to speak out in future. There was also a networking experience where employees circled the room and talked to us to develop our communication skills.

Tell us about your role as Student Careers Journalist for the Get Ahead newsletter

This role came about after a discussion with my careers advisor, about how I could gain more experience and help other students by giving them a peer’s perspective. I have written articles on websites to help students my own age find out more about different career paths and promote the opportunities offered by the Careers Service. We hope to get students at Capital City College Group’s other colleges to be ambassadors for their careers service.

Why should students take advantage of the Careers Service and what it offers?

Getting involved in the huge range of activities offered by the Careers Service gives you a real sense of achievement and is a great boost to your confidence. It also shows future employers that you care and are passionate about work and your future job prospects.

What advice would you give to students looking for career advice?

Widen your knowledge on the types of careers you want to do. You might be surprised by the jobs that match your skills and interests. Don’t be afraid to take a risk and choose opportunities the college offers that may not be directly linked to what you want to do in the future. You’re still gaining experience and refining key skills.

Find out more about Careers Advice and Guidance.

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