The kitchens and restaurant at Edmunds – West Suffolk College were the venue for The Grand Final of “A Passion to Inspire” this week, with Colchester Institute winning outright in a tough competition between five student teams from the East of England.
The heats and final of “A Passion to Inspire” stand out from other hospitality and catering skills competitions because of their focus on every aspect of the process, from students’ knowledge of produce, to designing and costing their menus, and exceptional front of house presentation and service of food and drink.
The competition also seeks to bring added benefits to the participating students and colleges by creating new links between professional chefs, suppliers of local produce and further education – and giving the chance for all students to have a go and be inspired
To reach the final on Tuesday 9th June, the teams of three students from Five colleges (Cambridge Regional College, City College Norwich, Colchester Institute and West Suffolk College and The College West Anglia) had to come through an earlier round of heats, with over 90 students being involved and inspired.
The student teams were each made up of two chefs and one front of house member. Prior to the final, each student team was paired with a top local chef as their mentor for the final.
The chef mentors were: Chris (Buzz) Busby (City College Norwich ); Matt Willby Executive Chef The Royal Hospital School, Ian Rhodes, General Manager and Executive Chef of Le Talbooth Restaurant (Colchester Institute); Stuart Ascott, Chef at The Leaping Hare (West Suffolk College); Alan Paton- Executive Chef Stoke By Nayland Hotel (Cambridge Regional College) and Sam Bryant, Head Chef Dabbling Duck (The College of West Anglia)
For the final, each team had just 2 hours Preparation time followed by an hour of service in which to produce a three course meal for four covers. The students were challenged to come up with their own creative and personal dishes, with the same set of ingredients to work from.
The competition judges – Shara Ross (Director and General Manager of Hotel Felix), Paul Foster (Head Chef of Mallory Court), Nick Mills (Managing Director of Brasteds) Mark Poynton (Chef Patron of Restaurant Alimentum) , Eric Snaith ( Head Chef of Titchwell Manor ) and Nick Claxton Webb ( Head Chef of Congham Hall ) – scored the students on all aspects of the preparation and service of their dishes, from working methods and hygiene, to seasonality and flavour of the dishes, to the students’ timing and presentation at the table.
Following a high quality demonstration of skills and knowledge from all of the finalists, Colchester Institute team of Charlie Dorney, Amy Plumb and Sophie Miller were announced as the worthy winners of “A Passion to Inspire” 2015.
Colchester Institute’s winning Dishes were
Pan fried Norfolk Quail – sweet corn puree (Carved at the table by Sophie),
Pinot noir, France
Ballotine of skate with a fennel and salmon Mousse, cucumber beurre blanc
Chardonnay, Les Mougeottes,France and
Dessert Iced strawberries, white chocolate parfait
Moscatod’Asti Moncucco, Italy
The Winning Presentations were opened by a Great Speech by Martin Bates CEO Craft Guild of Chefs ( This was his final engagement for The Craft Guild of Chefs – but we hope we will see Martin at our Future events – truly inspirational )
The three winning students were presented with a commemorative Steelite International plate and places to attend the prestigious Skills for Chefs annual conference, , a tasting menu at Michelin star Restaurant Alimentum, Farm Visits at Norfolk Quail and Dingley Dell Farm, gift vouchers from Anglian Free Range Eggs , a two night stay – stage and dinner at 3 AA Rosette Titchwell Manor and a Fantastic day at Infusions4chefs development Kitchen Ice with Chefs Jeremy Medley and Paul Boorman.
All of the finalists received membership of the Craft Guild of Chefs, Steelite plates, and Personalised Jackets and Aprons from Richard at Russums, and finalist certificates.
“A Passion to Inspire” 2015 was supported by Great Partners– Alimentum Restaurant, Anglian Free Range Eggs, Anglia Produce, BPEX, Callebaut Chocolate, CK Meats , Craft Guild of Chefs, Dingley Dell Pork , Direct Meats, Freedom Food, Gourmet Classic, Infusions4Chefs ,Loch Duart Salmon, Marr Fish, Master Chefs of Great Britain, Norfolk Quail , Russums, Steelite International , Skills for Chefs , Titchwell Manor
Mike Mulvihill – Director of Domestic Services- West Suffolk College- “It was a great privilege to be a part of “A Passion to Inspire” and being able to share the experience with other colleges. Not only are the students taking part inspired by the event but also the Commis chefs who assisted. For me, this is what it’s all about, an on-going legacy leaving everyone inspired and just not a one-off. The beauty of “A Passion to Inspire” is that is like a wave, it keeps coming back and supporting the students throughout the year. A lot of hard work from all involved and all should be justly proud.”
Mark Poynton – Owner/ Chef – Alimentum Restaurant – 1 Michelin Star – “ It was a pleasure to see such talent on show At West Suffolk College- both in the Kitchen and Service – Great work done by all – the future is looking bright “
Shara Ross – Director and General Manager – Hotel Felix – “ The young Hospitality students of our regional colleges make the job of judging the Passion to Inspire final harder and harder each year – the standard of cooking and service just keeps getting better! Such a pleasure seeing 5 teams of young people at the start of their career in this wonderfully exciting and varied industry “
Murray Chapman – “ A Passion to Inspire “ – “ A big thank you to all at West Suffolk College for their fantastic Hospitality – it is Great to see all these colleges and students coming together and being supported by local producers, suppliers and employers – it gives you faith that these young people have a chance of succeeding in our industry – supporting the future of tomorrow Today !! “