Students and lecturers cook up a storm at Royal Ascot

Professional cookery students at West Lothian College cooked up a storm after preparing more than 900 dishes for guests at this year’s prestigious Royal Ascot.

Seven students embarked on a week-long experience, where they were spread across various kitchens inside the event’s Pavilion Restaurant, creating numerous dishes from lunch to dinner.

Royal Ascot is the pinnacle of horse racing in the UK, bringing in thousands of guests and giving the college’s students hands on experience, allowing them to step out of campus, and immerse themselves in a culinary adventure.

Joining Paul Kelly, Audrey Buckley and Paul Devonshire, West Lothian College’s Professional Cookery lecturing staff, Louise Gibson, Fraser Worrall, Kieron Hogg, Jack Hesketh, Joanna Maj, Tegan Cunningham and Craig Fairbairn, students from level 4, 5 and 6 described their experience as ‘unforgettable’.

Paul Kelly, said: “My own personal highlight of working at Royal Ascot, was working with my students as a chef rather than a lecturer, and running the pass with my brigade of student chefs and seeing them improve with every service.

“The students absolutely smashed it, they did themselves proud. Everyone who was in contact with them throughout the week, loved them and commented that they worked really hard. They embraced the whole experience and it has been so good for them- when they go back to college after the summer, they’ll be sky high.

“Cambridge Regional College students were also in the kitchen with us, which was a good experience for our students as they got to speak to one another about what they were each studying on their courses.”

As well as working in the kitchen alongside their lecturers, the students met Head Chef Chris Burrows, and Sous Chefs, David Brookes and Igor Iglev.

“It was great for them to meet Chris, David and Igor,” Paul added. “Especially Igor as he started his career from being at college, so it lets them see where and what they can go into, in their future careers.

“At the end of the event, it was the best day and service that we had. You could see how much the students had developed from day one. The last service was just amazing- from their journey at the beginning of seeing the scale of the place and the event, to smashing it throughout the whole week.”

Level 4 Professional Cookery student, Craig Fairbairn’s highlight of the event was sealing 900 chicken breasts on his own.

He said: “It was a really good experience, getting to see all the preparation and being involved in that. I got to learn how to cook and seal 900 chicken breasts, which was really interesting.”

Louise Gibson, Level 6 Professional Cookery student, and who is currently working at the Balmoral Hotel added: “Working at the Pavilion has been a unforgettable experience- it’s been good to see so many chefs coming together as a team from so many different places and backgrounds, and seeing how you can integrate with one another, and cooperate, to get an amazing service out.”

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