New look Langley College unveiled by Michelin star chef

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East Berkshire College's new look Langley College, which includes a new state-of-the-art Hospitality & Catering Academy, was officially unveiled to the public on Thursday (3rd October 2013).

The official opening ceremony was performed by award-winning chef Tom Kerridge, owner of the two Michelin-starred Hand & Flowers in Marlow. A regular on the BBC's Great British Menu, Tom is also a patron of the new Hospitality & Catering Academy.

Tom, who has a new TV series called Proper Pub Food airing on BBC2, is passionate about inspiring young people. Tom explains: "I am pleased to be able to support East Berkshire College's new Hospitality & Catering Academy. Working with the College is a chance for me to give something back and inspire the next generation of chefs and front of house staff.

"The College's training kitchens are amazing and these students are the future of the catering industry. I started cooking at a young age, but I didn't realise it was the career for me until I went to catering college and got an evening job in a kitchen. Having the right attitude and working hard is the key to success. You have to love what you do!"

The special Open Day event marked the completion of the first phase of a £30m improvement project at Langley College and was attended by local dignitaries, businesses and leading figures from the hospitality and catering world. Guests included award-winning pastry chef Will Torrent (from Iver) as well as prestigious local businesses such as CH&Co, Sir Christopher Wren Hotel & Spa, Stoke Place, Eton College and WPC Inns.

Visitors were able to take a tour of the new state-of-the-art learning facilities, which includes professional training kitchens, a working restaurant, a new Learning Centre, a multi-purpose Sports Centre, new study areas and a new reception area.

Dressed in their chef whites, the College's catering students prepared a delicious selection of canapés for the launch and waited on guests. The budding young chefs even baked a special celebration cake for the occasion.

Student Layla Jones (from Slough), who is studying a Professional Cookery course at the College, was delighted to be part of the event.

"It was such an honour to meet Tom Kerridge and Will Torrent. I'd like to be a head chef in a top restaurant one day, so this event was great experience. It taught us how to work together as a team and under pressure to get the food ready on time. It was an amazing day."

The auspicious event also included the live final of the Berkshire's Best Young Chef competition, which saw six finalists aged 12-19 battle it out in a Masterchef-style cook-off. The six contestants produced some mouth-watering dishes, which were judged by a panel of experts including Tom Kerridge, Will Torrent, David Cavalier from leading contract caterer CH&Co and Tim Cole, Editor of the Slough Observer. Natalie Christovic (15, from Yately) stunned the judges by creating an amazing coconut and chocolate croquembouche (profiterole tower) in 90mins to win the top prize. Meanwhile, Connor Braddick, who is an apprentice chef at Sir Christopher Wren Hotel in Windsor, was victorious in the College's apprentice chef contest.

Will Torrent, who has just published his first book Pâtisserie at Home and recently collaborated with Heston Blumenthal and Royal Chef Mark Flanagan to create the Diamond Jubilee Picnic Hampers, said: "The students at the new Hospitality & Catering Academy at Langley College now have one of the best training facilities in the area - show the kitchen respect and the kitchen will respect you! What a great way to open and show off the new facilities too - the worthy winner, managed to create a wonderfully tasting Croquembouche, something many chefs would shy away from that was simplicity executed perfectly! Well Done!"

The stunning new Hospitality & Catering Academy is part of the College's £30m investment in its Langley College. The academy will be working in partnership with patrons from some of the most prestigious restaurants, contract caterers and hotels within the region to provide students with the opportunity to learn from some of the best in the business.

Helping to meet the training needs of local businesses in this thriving sector, the facility accommodates professional training kitchens and a working restaurant. Providing a real work environment for students, the Zest restaurant will be open to the public and serve a range of delicious seasonal dishes at competitive prices. All food will be cooked and served by talented students under the supervision of industry-trained staff.

College Principal, Kate Webb, enthused: "We are very excited about our new facilities and in particular our new Hospitality & Catering Academy. We are absolutely thrilled to have Tom Kerridge and his team at The Hand & Flowers involved in the project. Tom is an outstanding role model for our students, showing them just what hard work and determination can achieve."

"Our new facilities will enable more young people in this area to train for careers in this growing sector and through our partnership with leading industry figures such as Tom Kerridge, Will Torrent and CH&Co; we hope to give our students the best possible start to their careers and inspire them to achieve their full potential."

The special Open Day was a true feast for all the senses with students and staff from across the College showcasing their skills in a wide range of activities and demonstrations. From a Ferrari race car in the College's extensive Motor Vehicle Department to nail art in the beauty therapy salons, there was something to suit everyone. Visitors were even able to try their hand at carpentry in a special taster session and learn how to create the perfect 1950s up-do from hairdressing students.

For further information on East Berkshire College and its extensive range of over 800 courses, including apprenticeships, For more details call the College on 0845 373 2500.

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