An aspiring chef from Westminster Kingsway College is jetting off to India to put his culinary skills to the ultimate test in a global competition.
Jackson Carter, 18, will be representing England and competing against chefs from more than 50 countries in the ninth International Young Chef Olympiad from 29 January to 4 February.
He said: “It’s a great feeling to have performed well enough for my chef lecturer to pick me and I will be flying out to take part in an international competition. Just to be going there is incredible.
“I’ve always tried very hard to improve my skills, and over the past month I have been pushing myself and practising every day to do even better.”
The first round of the competition run by the International Institute of Hotel Management will see the participating chefs split into groups competing in Delhi, Bangalore, Pune, Hyderabad or Goa, before the 10 leading chefs compete in the grand final in Kolkata.
Jackson, from Brent, who is studying for a Professional Chef Level 3 Diploma, started out on a Level 1 diploma at WestKing in September 2020 before progressing to Level 2 and Level 3.
He said: “Since I was in Year Six at school I’ve been cooking with my mum and always really enjoyed it. I’ve grown up around food and it’s always something I’ve loved and had a passion for.”
Jackson began to consider a career as a chef while studying food technology at secondary school, which later led to him choosing to train at WestKing after being impressed the college’s facilities.
He said: “There are not many other colleges that can match WestKing, especially in London. There are other colleges that have a small section dedicated to training chefs, but every corner you turn here you’re in a new kitchen or production room.”
She said: “This is incredible. I can’t put it into words. This surpasses every achievement of my life. I don’t know how I’m going to top this. This is it, this is the peak, I think I’ve reached it!”
Her winning menu featured a starter of seabass cured in citrus dressing with smoked aubergine and spiced red pepper purées, followed by a main of crispy chicken thighs, tortellini filled with chicken, mushrooms and coriander topped with a coconut curry sauce, and for dessert a cardamom custard tart with poached apricots and a honey tuile.
Masterchef presenter Gregg Wallace said: “Nikita opened up the larder of the world and brought us dish after stunning dish after stunning dish.”
Michelin-star chef Marcus Wareing said “She’s a chef that has grown right in front of our eyes. Her food has been sublime,” while fellow judge, chef and restauranteur Anna Haugh, added: “Nikita is on the road to creating a very unique cuisine. And that is why she’s our champion.”
Nikita, who works as a Junior Sous Chef at Michelin-star restaurant Kitchen W8 in Kensington, trained at the college’s School for Hospitality and Culinary Arts in Victoria from 2016-19.
She undertook Level 2 and Level 3 apprenticeships, sponsored by The Worshipful Company of Cooks, at The Lanesborough in Knightsbridge and Claude Bosi at Bibendum in Kensington.
Nikita said: “My apprenticeship at Westminster Kingsway was a fantastic way to gain important foundational knowledge and skills, which compounded with real experience working in restaurant kitchens, set me up with both the skills and qualifications I needed to work in top Michelin-starred restaurants.
“I’m so glad I started my career on this apprenticeship. The guidance and extra support that made the job a little less daunting when I first started out.”
Nikita grew up in Derby and lived in India with her family for two years from the age of nine. As a child she would prepare meals with her mum, which inspired her love of Asian cooking.
After her apprenticeship at WestKing, she travelled for nine months around South East Asia, which further deepened her passion and appreciation for the region’s flavours and culinary styles.
Sharon Barry, Head of School for Hospitality and Culinary Arts Apprenticeships, said: “Nikita was a dedicated, passionate and highly motivated learner during her time at WestKing. It comes as no surprise that she has continued to grow and thrive within her culinary career.
“Winning Masterchef: The Professionals is a fantastic achievement, and we are all incredibly proud of her. She is a huge inspiration to all our current learners who has shown anything is possible if you believe in yourself and follow your dreams.”
Find out more and apply for Hospitality and Culinary Arts courses here and apprenticeships here.
Westminster Kingsway College’s award-winning School of Hospitality and Culinary achieved another milestone when it was awarded accredited status by the Craft Guild of Chefs this month.
The Craft Guild of Chefs is the leading chef association in the UK. It plays a key role in championing the skills and talents of the people in the foodservice and hospitality sector and, as a part of this, it runs a prestigious accreditation scheme which universities and colleges that teach culinary skills can apply to join.
To be accredited, universities and colleges must meet stringent criteria set by the Craft Guild of Chefs, demonstrating that the faculty offers a high calibre of teaching. An independent assessor also inspects the college to ensure it meets the high standards required.
As Curriculum Manager Miranda Quantrill explained: “We are absolutely delighted that the college’s Hospitality and Culinary Arts provision has been accredited by the Craft Guild of Chefs. This is great news and it’s a massive endorsement of the work that we do here. A big thank you to all the staff and the students who made this possible.”
The Craft Guild’s independent assessor visited the college in early November and spoke to staff including Miranda and Restaurant Manager Marc Whitley as well as a number of our students.
He was glowing in his praise of both the quality of teaching and the attitude of the students, saying in his report: “It is clear that everyone excepts nothing but the best from each other and both staff and students understand that ethos, respect it and are more than happy to ensure the high standards requested are maintained by everyone.”
As part of his inspection, the assessor also visited the Escoffier Room, the college’s fine dining restaurant, where students cook meals for, and serve, members of the public, and was served a meal by students.
He also spoke to a couple of first year students, both of whom talked with excitement about the course and their desires to progress through the industry and what they wanted for their future. Both students spoke extremely highly of the course the tutors and the facilities they had the good fortune to be taught within.
The assessor concluded his report saying: “Westminster Kingsway College benefit from a committed and professional team of hospitality lecturers. The standards set by the faculty team is reflected in the appearance and enthusiasm shown by the students. It is clear that many students will have successful careers and the continued relationships with industry will support this objective.”
Terry Tinton, Assistant Principal Hospitality, Foundation Studies and Commercial, said: “We are over the moon that the Craft Guild of Chefs has awarded Westminster Kingsway College accredited status.
“This award has been well-earned and recognises the decades of skill and experience that has gone into the quality of our culinary teaching, as well as the way that we structure our courses to make them as industry-relevant as possible.
“It’s why students from all over the south-east of England come to us, and why so many of them graduate from here into great jobs in some of the country’s top restaurants and hotels.”
Do you want to be a chef or work in hospitality? Learn from the best at WestKing. Find out more about our Hospitality and Culinary Arts courses here and apprenticeship training here.
“Taking on this apprenticeship has allowed me to follow my passion, balancing learning with practical work whilst getting paid. I love being part of the team here and learning from others around me.
“There is always something new to uncover and that’s what I enjoy most about being a chef and I hope to build my knowledge further, as I continue this exciting journey.”
Compass Group UK & Ireland is part of Compass Group, the largest contract catering company in the world employing 500,000 people and serving 5.5 billion meals to 55,000 clients each year.
Jonathan Foot, Head of Apprenticeships and Early Careers at Compass Group UK & Ireland, congratulated Dylan on his “wonderful achievement.”
He further praised Dylan’s “phenomenal efforts” as he has progressed in his career and described him as a great role model for anyone looking to start an apprenticeship.
Tom Damen, Chef Lecturer at WestKing, said: “Each week at college I see Dylan’s commitment to improving his culinary skills. Through his apprenticeship at Compass Group he has excelled to a new level of professionalism and confidence.
“I would like to congratulate him on wining Compass Group’s Apprentice of the Year, which is so well deserved. He is an outstanding young chef and destined to go far in the industry.”
Apply now for Hospitality and Culinary Arts apprenticeships here.
Michelin-star chef Michel Roux welcomed newly enrolled Hospitality and Culinary Arts students and apprentices as they got a flavour of life at Westminster Kingsway College.
Around 350 aspiring chefs, hoteliers and waiters attended the event at the college’s Victoria Centre on 13 September, which included cookery demonstrations, fun games and activities and trade stands from many of the hospitality industry suppliers that work with the college.
Michel, who owns La Gavroche restaurant in Mayfair, insisted there was a job for everyone in hospitality whether in the kitchen or front of house and stressed the importance of qualifications.
He said: “This is one of the best colleges in London. The Roux family have been sending its apprentices here for 40 years. The people who train here, like your good selves, achieve greatness.
“There are lots and lots of opportunities in our industry. Whatever you choose to do, always remember to keep smiling and enjoy it, and maybe one day some of you will be working alongside me.”
The new students enjoyed plenty of fun activities including trying their hand at icing and decorating cupcakes, making a crepe suzette and mixing mocktails.
WestKing works with a wide range of culinary industry partners, many of which were represented at the event.
Students learnt about the supply of fruit and vegetables with DDP Ltd and how to blend their own smoothies using various ingredients with kitchen equipment supplier Thermomix.
The event also featured stands from the Craft Guild of Chefs, The Caterer magazine, catering suppliers Flint & Flame, Koppert Cress and Mozzo Coffee, Compass Group and HRC, an annual expo for hospitality and food service professionals.
Also present was BSG, which gives hospitality and culinary students the opportunity to gain internships at prestigious private clubs, hotels and resorts in the United States.
There was also a free to enter raffle to win prizes including two tickets to see the musical Wicked at The Apollo, a basket of fruit, a chopping board from Rough Stuff Oak, a kitchen knife from Flint & Flame, a £50 Amazon voucher and copies of In a Class of Their Own, a book on the WestKing’s hospitality and culinary school’s history.
Sam Neil, 16, who has just started a Professional Chef Level 1 Diploma, said: “I’ve been interested in cooking for a few years. One of my grandad’s friends runs a catering company and suggested I look at working in hospitality. She said if you want to be a chef you should go to WestKing. My careers adviser at school told me it’s the best college they know for hospitality.
“Being a chef involves long hours, tough work but it’s a rewarding career. You get to show what you’re about through the food, rather than sitting in an office doing work you’re not interested in.
“I’ve really enjoyed today. It’s been good to meet some chefs and get a feel for what the hospitality industry is like. I’m only in the first few weeks of training and getting the basics done, but I’m properly excited to start cooking, get to know people and about the whole college experience.”
Ellie Paphitis, also 16 and studying the same course, said: “I’ve been enjoying cooking since I was young, especially baking and making pastries. I was going to go to sixth form and do A Levels, but I changed my mind because I wanted to do something I was really passionate about. I’ve tried a lot of things, but cooking is the one thing I’ve stuck with in my life. I also have a lot of influences in my family because they like to cook as well.
“A lot of us are aspiring to be like Michel Roux and it was very motivational and inspiring to hear from him. It made me feel like I’m not so far away, and if I really try my best and work towards what I want to be, then I can do it.
“There has been lots going on today. I’ve tried some fruits, vegetables and some garnishes. I’ve not heard of any other college doing anything like this. I’ve been able to speak to other students and teachers. It’s really brought everyone together.”
The Burnt Chef Project, which provides mental health support for the UK hospitality industry, also attended the event along with other support organisations including SASH London, Mind, Insight and WestKing’s own Student Services team.
Miranda Quantrill, Curriculum Manager for Hospitality and Culinary Arts, said: “We were delighted to officially welcome our new students and apprentices starting this year, as well giving our second and third years an opportunity to network and have fun, and what could be more exciting than to have Michel Roux inspire them as they start their hospitality journey!
“The day was a hive of activity and gave students the chance to settle into life at college – which can be quite daunting if you have just left school – and to find out more about the incredible industry they will be gaining the skills and knowledge to work in over the next few years.”
Figures show that one in six new jobs created in the UK over the past year was in the hospitality sector, the equivalent of 133,000 new roles.
Find out more about out Hospitality and Culinary courses here and apprenticeship here. Enrol now.
It rates WestKing as one of the top five schools in the world to gain the skills and technical expertise needed to become a chef.
The college was recognised alongside other illustrious institutions, namely the Culinary Institute of America in the United States, Le Cordon Bleu in France, Apicius in Italy and the Business and Hotel Management School, Switzerland.
The article read: “Sitting in the heart of London, you are exposed to the best of the world’s culture right at your college campus. Westminster Kingsway College is one of the most diverse and dynamic colleges on this list.
“This title is claimed on the back of the diversity of the courses that it offers. It matters not if you are a young person … or a professional looking to brush up your skills or someone who is looking to reorient his or her career, you can find a course that suits your needs here at Westminster Kingsway College.
“A list of notable alumni also enables you to find professional footing once you graduate from the college.”
Spaces for next year are filling up fast with more than 100 offers already made to prospective students looking to study courses or take apprenticeships at the college this September.
Lidia Pozzuto, 20, who completed a Professional Chef Level 3 Diploma last year, is now working as a pastry commis chef at The Ritz London.
She said: “I chose to study at WestKing because I felt the chef diploma was the best fit for me and would give me a good all-round understanding and skillset compared to courses at other colleges.
“I learnt a lot during the course. It definitely helps you to solidify the basics to work in the industry and gives you various opportunities to gain work experience.”
“I got into The Ritz after one of my lecturers was told about possible positions by a former student who worked there. I’ve really improved my skills since I’ve been there and its very fulfilling seeing the high standard of food we produce every day.
“What I love most about working in the culinary sector is that there are so many pathways to go down and you’re constantly learning. There’s always new skills and techniques to develop.
“I want to keep on improving and continue working my way up in the industry.”
WestKing is part of Capital City College Group (CCCG), which also comprises City and Islington College and the College of Haringey Enfield and North East London and apprenticeship provider Capital City College Training.
The college’s Victoria Centre is home to the School of Hospitality and Culinary Arts and two award-winning training restaurants, The Brasserie and The Escoffier, collectively known as The Vincent Rooms.
WestKing’s high-profile hospitality and culinary arts alumni include Jamie Oliver, Ainsley Harriott, Antony Worral Thompson, Sophie Wright and Ben Murphy.
Gary Hunter, Deputy Executive Principal of CCCG, himself a trained chef and chocolatier, said: “To be mentioned in the top five culinary arts schools by such a highly respected publication is incredible. It’s even more astonishing when you consider all the other institutions are all privately funded with access to better financial resources and would be right up there on my list too.
“WestKing is certainly punching above its weight, which is down to the huge dedication of our teachers, staff and employer partners who every day inspire and motivate our students and apprentices, who in turn continue to astound us with their talent, ability and commitment to be the best they can be.”
“It’s been really busy. We’re in week 8 and so far we’re coming up to our 6000th meal.” Trainee chef Benji Nathan doesn’t like to have nothing to do. When faced with the prospect of no work for weeks or maybe even months because of the UK-wide COVID-19 lockdown, some people might be tempted to kick back a bit and relax.
Not Benji. In addition to his online studies with Westminster Kingsway College, he works for his cousin Adam in his catering business Adam Nathan Catering, preparing delicious dishes for the company’s clients. When the lockdown was announced in March, Adam asked Benji if he could help out more, as Adam wanted to continue creating dishes for any of the firm’s clients who still needed them and to help support the NHS at the same time.
As Benji explains: “A friend of Adam’s works at the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery in Central London. She told us that many of the staff weren’t eating properly, because they are really busy and the canteen is closed now, because of the virus. We thought we could help, so whenever we get an order for our meals from a paying customer, we offer them the chance to spend an extra £10 to ‘donate a meal’ to the hospital. With the help of Richard Delow, who trained to be a chef at Westminster Kingsway College too, we’re averaging 130 meals for the hospital each week, which is all thanks to the generosity of our customers.”
As well as catering for the company’s customers and the donated NHS meals, Benji also bakes for a north London community organisation called You Donate We Deliver, which provides free meals for NHS workers. Since it was started by a north London mum and her daughter at the end of March, You Donate We Deliver has gone from helping a handful people to feeding thousands of staff in hospitals across north London every day, with the help of a small army of delivery drivers and chefs like Benji, coordinated through six ‘hubs’ across the region.
Benji continues: “When I leave college I want to be a chef. I am studying on the college’s Pastry diploma to expand my knowledge and become a more well-rounded professional. So every week at home with my family, I bake around 150 portions – cakes mostly – for my local You Donate We Deliver hub in Totteridge. It’s wonderful to be able to do what I love, while helping the NHS at the same time!”
But that isn’t all. As well as baking for NHS staff, and the catering work and NHS meals he prepares with Adam and Richard, Benji also has to keep up his Westminster Kingsway college studies, even while it’s closed. He is in his third year at the college and, before the lockdown, was studying at our Victoria campus full-time. Now working at home or from Adam Nathan Catering’s St Albans kitchen, Benji has been able to continue learning and has enjoyed watching the college’s ‘lockdown’ online Culinary Masterclasses series too. “The other chefs in the kitchen and I have watched the Masterclasses and really enjoyed them. The next Masterclass is with Sarah Mountain [a well-known Pastry Chef] and I’m really looking forward to that!”
As you’d expect, Benji’s Level 3 Patisserie Diploma course has many practical elements, so, although he can’t attend college and practice his craft in the kitchens there, he’s definitely keeping his eye in at home. “I am very busy doing college work, plus all the meals I’m doing with Adam, and baking for You Donate We Deliver. I love it and it’s very rewarding!
“I have also been practicing other baking techniques and learning new skills too. For example, I’ve been learning how to make flowers and things like that out of fondant icing, to decorate cakes. It’s my Grandma’s 95th birthday soon and I’m going to make her a cake and hand-pipe some flowers to go on it. I hope she likes it.”