Former students cooking up a storm in Highclere

Friday, 28 February 2020 15:44
John Rich (left) and Riley Coleman (right) with Head Chef Ryan Stacey (centre) John Rich (left) and Riley Coleman (right) with Head Chef Ryan Stacey (centre)

John Rich and Riley Coleman graduated from their Professional Cookery course at Newbury College in 2017 and have recently joined the team at The Pheasant in Highclere.

The Pheasant in Highclere opened its doors in July 2019, but it has a much longer history. Initially founded in the 17th century, the Hampshire pub was renamed as The Yew Tree Inn during the 1980s. It was later well known for its famous affiliation with Michelin starred chef, Marco Pierre White. Current owners Ryan Stacey (pictured) and Billy Callaway reverted the establishment to its original name as a tribute to its heritage.

In the busy restaurant kitchen, we caught up with John, Riley and Head Chef Ryan to find out how the young chefs are progressing. Both of the ‘chef de parties’ are in charge of their own sections and are entrusted with preparing assigned dishes that they have also helped to develop.

“Riley was the first to join the team,” Ryan told us, “and I was really impressed by his attitude and enthusiasm from the start. Riley recommended John a few months later, and they are a strong team.”

Ryan, a former college-trained chef himself, explained how he is a firm believer in vocational, college education. He has been impressed with the level of basic skills and work ethic possessed by his recent recruits, that can be largely attributed to the training they received on their course.

“I feel that I learned and achieved a lot in the two years I studied professional cookery,” said Riley, who was busy preparing seasonal vegetables for the evening menu, “I am very appreciative of the help and
the encouragement my lecturer gave me.”

“The course was a good choice for me,” added John, who was working on a vegan, gluten-free banana bread of his own creation. “I enjoyed the Open Day and thought it would be the best place to study what I wanted to make a career out of. I enjoyed the practical side to the course as I learnt a lot of skills from doing this. It has helped me progress in my career.”

Both chefs are now putting their training into practice, and their employers couldn’t be happier. Business has been so good at The Pheasant; the owners are already thinking about expanding the team and are on the lookout for new talent to join them.

To find out more about Professional Cookery courses at Newbury College visit www.newbury-college.ac.uk/catering and to sample the delicious dishes served up at The Pheasant visit www.thepheasanthighclere.co.uk