Students from London South East Colleges’ Hospitality, Food and Enterprise Career College staged an exciting ‘restaurant takeover’ yesterday at London’s prestigious Blueprint Café when they ran their complete lunchtime and afternoon service.
As a part of National Apprenticeship Week 2019, the owners of the Blueprint Café (D&D Restaurants), situated close to Tower Bridge on the River Thames, challenged the students to spend the afternoon catering for a wide range of customers and clients. This meant entrusting them to uphold their very high standards of service and customer experience making it the challenge of a lifetime.
The students split into two teams, one working the kitchens, the other front-of-house. Under the watchful eye of Head Chef Joseph Albina, a former chef for both Pierre Koffman and Marco Pierre White, the students devised their own menu and cooked to perfection a superb choice of food. Dishes included mackerel fillet, smoked haddock, bubble and squeak, and Welsh rarebit, supreme of chicken with creamed savoy and bacon, rosemary and sautéed potatoes, vanilla pannacotta with poached rhubarb and cardamom shortbread.
Joseph said: “The students were superb and performed amazingly well on the day. I am very impressed with their ability to keep calm, work to a carefully planned schedule and handle everything admirably in their stride. I congratulate them all for turning up, facing the challenge and totally smashing it. Well done to them all.”
The front-of-house team worked closely with Restaurant Manager Carla Amaro who has many years of experience in the hotel and restaurant sector, including a long stint with the InterContinental Hotel Group.
Carla said: “It was a busy afternoon with many guests sampling the delights cooked-up by this highly creative and dedicated group of students. They handled themselves flawlessly and made a huge impression on our customers. I’m very proud of them all.”
Level 3 students Elizabeth Kelly and Christopher Wong were among the team taking part. Both were eager to show what they could do and showcase the work they have put into the project which has been planned over many weeks.
Elizabeth, 18, from Orpington said: “I would like to get a job as a chef somewhere in central London when I complete the course at the end of the year. Today is a good test of everything we have learnt so far. For me personally, it represents taking a huge step to gaining on-the-job experience and giving me more confidence in my abilities to perform at the highest level.”
Christopher, 18, from Dartford would like to follow in his father’s footsteps and become a restaurant manager. Before that, he intends to study Culinary Management at degree level. He said: “I have received a conditional offer to study at the University of West London next year, but I need to achieve a distinction at the end of this course. I’m very confident of doing this and I have worked very hard to accumulate the skills and knowledge to get me there. Much of this I have used today during the challenge. I feel so well prepared and I’ve enjoyed every second.”
Principal Sam Parrett OBE attended the Blueprint Café for lunch with a group of senior managers and College stakeholders. She said: “This has been a brilliant opportunity for our students. We’re delighted that The Blueprint Cafe and D&D Restaurants put their confidence and trust in them to do this.
“They have shown they can operate at a very high level with little or no supervision – showing themselves as a credit to this College. They are the creme de la creme.
“This unique event has set the standards, expectations and aspirations for our students and will ensure they leave us ‘industry-ready’. Well done to them all.”
D&D’s Head of Learning and Development, Jaimie Stewart thanked the students at the end of their shift. He said: “You haven’t just lived up to our expectations today, you’ve exceeded them. I have every confidence that you will all succeed in your future careers.”