Following the completion of a highly competitive semi-final heat where student chefs were tasked with cooking a three-course, three-cover menu around the theme of ‘Around the World in Three Spices’, Newbury College’s team of young student chefs have made it through to the final of the Country Range Student Chef Challenge after finishing as first runner-up.
Competing against Highbury College, East Kent College, Westminster Kingsway and Waltham Forest College, the Newbury College team now heads to Hotelympia on Wednesday 7th March for the live final cook off.
The team, students Lewis Tull, Emanuelle Dupas and Harley Paxford, will battle it out for the prestigious title against nine other colleges from around the UK including the Westminster Kingsway team who qualified as the semi-final winners.
The three semi-final heats took place at Loughborough College, Highbury College and the City of Glasgow College on the 1st, 7th and 9th of February with two teams qualifying from each heat. A further four teams with the highest points accumulated also advanced to the final.
Teams will have to once again cook their three-course, three-cover menu in 90 minutes but this time in front of a live exhibition audience at the UK’s largest foodservice and hospitality event.
While the menus can be tweaked slightly before the final, the Newbury College team’s successful menu comprised of:
• Spiced Pan-Fried Cornish Mackerel Fillet, Lentils, Cauliflower, Braised Leak and Thyme
• Roast Guinea Fowl Supreme, Ras el Hanout, Bulghar, Purple Broccoli and Tahini Dressing
• Hazelnut “Biscuit” with Szechuan Spiced Pineapple and Milk Chocolate Sauce
Now in its 24th year, the annual Country Range Student Chef Challenge has become the pinnacle for full-time hospitality college students looking to develop skills and showcase their culinary prowess and creativity. This year’s theme is ‘Around the World in Three Spices’ with teams having to use a different fresh or ground spice in each of their courses.
In addition to taking home the much-coveted title, the three victorious students will each win a bespoke set of three Flint & Flame knives, a trip to the 2018 Universal Cookery & Food Festival, Westlands, in September 2018 and they will be treated to one night’s accommodation and dinner at Michelin-starred restaurant Simpsons in Kenilworth.
Emma Holden, Organiser of the Country Range Student Chef Challenge, said: “It was an incredible start to the semi-finals with some unbelievable technique, team work and dishes on display. Huge congratulations must to go to all the teams but Newbury College and Westminster Kingsway thoroughly deserve to make it through to the final after each produced three amazing dishes. We look forward to seeing the teams again in March at Hotelympia where they will have to recreate their dishes under ever greater pressure in front of a live exhibition audience.”
Chris Basten, Craft Guild of Chefs Chairman of Judges, commented: “Well done to the Newbury College and Westminster Kingsway teams on fantastic all-round performances. The menus devised showcased real imagination and the teams backed this up on the day by showing real composure, skill and plating up some dazzling dishes.”
For further information on the Country Range Student Chef Challenge visit www.countryrangestudentchef.co.uk
Visitors to the Newbury College Open Evening on Thursday 08 February were surprised to discover the science lab at the Monks Lane campus had become the scene of a mysterious poisoning. Clues had been hidden across the lab for visitors to find and solve the mystery of the fateful incident.
The simulated crime scene was just one of the activities that visitors could interact with as part of a tour of the college facilities, which included construction and motor vehicle workshops; beauty and hairdressing salons; art and media studios; a professional kitchen and restaurant; an animal care unit; a sports hall and a brand new £1m Solutions Lab.
Science is offered to all students as part of the year 10 and 11 programmes in the Academy at Newbury College and provides a more practical approach than traditional GCSEs. Many full-time vocational BTEC subjects offered to students from year 12 and beyond also include science-based units and can be equivalent to several A-Levels.
Deputy Principal and Director of Curriculum, Fadia Clarke, said: “The Academy at Newbury College is just one of the many ways we support young people who are looking for a more practical and skills-based alternative to traditional study. Our curriculum has been designed to engage students in subjects that they are passionate about and provide them with vocational and employability skills as well as essential skills such as maths and English. Many of our students go on to meaningful employment, university or higher education within the college.”
Newbury College is constantly reviewing the curriculum it offers to ensure it continues to meet the needs of the local employment market and provide courses that enable students to experience more and achieve more. A special page on the college’s website at www.newbury-college.ac.uk/vote, allows potential students to vote for courses they believe should be offered by the college in the future.
In an event that celebrated Dr Anne Murdoch’s 17-year long career at Newbury College, governors and staff, past and present, gathered with Mayors, local business leaders and members of Anne’s family to celebrate her time as Principal. The event took place in an indoor marquee in the College sports hall on Wednesday 31 January. The proceedings were led by Geoff Knappett, Corporation Chair, and hosted by Communications Officer, Shaun Daubney, who highlighted Anne’s many achievements and successes in a ‘this is your life’-style presentation.
Contributing to the tributes that were made on the day were speakers Tony Allen, former Corporation Chair, Councillor Ellen Mary Crumly, Mayor of Thatcham, Pamela Lumsden, CEO, AOSEC and Roly Wise, an Engineering Assessor who has worked at the College for over 40 years. Those that could not attend, sent their well wishes via video – these included Richard Benyon MP for Newbury, Campbell Christie, Principal, Bracknell and Wokingham College, Jacinta O’Shea, Managing Director of Keystone Projects Ltd and Anne’s grandson, James Murdoch.
“It’s been a wonderful 17 years at the College,” reflects Dr Anne Murdoch, Principal and CEO. “I joined just before the College moved from its old site on the Oxford Road to its new campus on Monks Lane. In the time I’ve been Principal, I’ve been through five Ofsted inspections that have seen the College improve from unsatisfactory in 2004 to Good in 2009, 2015 and 2017, seen approximately 70-80,000 students take our courses, and developed the campus by adding a sports hall, training restaurant, construction centre, animal care unit, hair salon, and, most recently, an engineering solutions lab.
“I’ve had the pleasure of working with many great staff and governors over the years and received a huge amount of support from the wider stakeholders, such as employers, the Thames Valley Berkshire LEP and local authorities. I’d like to take this opportunity to thank them all. I look forward to working alongside my successor Iain Wolloff for a short time before I leave and I wish him every success in his new role.”
Anne’s last day at the College is Friday 09 February, after which she takes up a position with the Principal’s Professional Council. She will also assist in helping the College open a brand new primary school on its site in 2019.