On Thursday 5th October, I sprung on seven unsuspecting young people who have been undertaking the programme Hospitality Futures. These seven bright characters were not going on a really long industry visit, but in fact they would be spending the day at the Salvation Army’s William Booth centre to cook for the service users and invited guests.
Monday 25th September was no ordinary Monday for the Hospitality Futures participants and the staff at New Hall Spa – a Hand Picked Hotel
Arriving at the site
Last week we took a group of eager KickStart candidates on a Taster Day at Gather & Gather's site in the Lloyds building, Central London. We were greeted by the wonderful Lynn Parker who helped set up the day for us, and then introduced to Ben, the London Culinary Support Head Chef at Gather & Gather.
Ben is part of the development team there and when he is not INSPIRING young chefs he comes up with exciting menus for their sites nationwide! The participants had high praise for Ben, saying he was "funny, friendly, a great teacher and he inspired us!"
The first activity of the day was some demonstrations of simple cuts; Ben showed us how to do 'Julien', 'Brunoise', 'Baton' and 'Chiffonade' style chopping - and at lighting fast pace. The candidates thought it was "scary but cool" and even said they "thought chopping that fast was just from TV - I didn't realise people could actually do that!".
Next up Ben taught everyone about allergens, the group learnt about the dangers of allergic reactions, all of the different allergens that are out there and we even found out that if you are in a restaurant the waitors must know exactly which allergens are in which dishes or they get in big trouble! We also got to know about sourcing food and the fact that Gather & Gather get all of their good, fresh, healthy food from across the British Isles and Ireland.
One of the highlights of the day was Ben's demonstration of how to make delicious, gooey brownies (and getting to eat them obviously!). Once again the candidates were delighted and told me "it was the nicest brownie I have ever tried!" and another said "it was amazing! I am definitely going to make them at home!".
We also had some fun playing a food identifying game! 10 pots containing different ingredients were lined up and the guys were tasked with working out what they were. Lots of studying, smelling and tasting followed and the candidate that got the most right won a recipe book!
The activities in the kitchen continued with another great challenge. After learning about using different flavours that complement each other and the importance of presentation everyone got to make a plate of canapes and Ben judged them on that criteria. There were some fantastic creations - and some not so fantastic! One candidate put chicken, steak and salmon in one canape!! -but everyone had a great time and the winner also got a lovely recipe book from the team at Gather & Gather.
Lunch & Coffee
After Gather & Gather treated us to lunch in their restaurant on site we got to do some barista training with their speciality coffee expert Anna. Anna taught the candidates about the coffee quality scale - anything above 80q's out of 100 on the scale counts as a speciality coffee. She told us that Gather & Gather source all of their 85q 'Revelation' coffee blend from a local roastery called UNION.
All of our future hospitality stars then got a chance to try their hand at being a barista. Everyone chose their drink and then followed Anna's training to make some beautiful and tasty Mochas, Lattes, Cappucinos and Hot Chocolates! The guys were so good they thought "the coffees were too pretty to drink!".
That was the end of a fantastic experience with Gather & Gather and all that was left was to say goodbye and some big thankyous to the staff that helped out and the candidates for their great efforts!