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Start them young!

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The Junior Chef course at City College Norwich has just expanded, meaning even more would-be chefs will be able to spend their Saturday mornings learning new skills in the kitchen. Emma Outten reports

One of the leisure courses at City College Norwich is proving so popular, organisers have decided to double up!

The Junior Chef programme is aimed at young chefs aged 10-15 who want to learn to cook with imagination and style – the so-called Junior Academy provides expert tuition in the professional environment of the College’s industry-standard training kitchens, guided by experienced chefs from the renowned Hotel School: Chef Supervisor Martin Colley and Restaurant Supervisor Florin Stoian.

Up until now, Martin and Flo have been alternating sessions, but, starting later this month, they will lead a group each, to keep up with demand. And they are quite the double act! Leisure Learning Manager Sharon Farrant says: ‘We are very lucky to have Flo and Martin on board. It’s really key to have the right people delivering Junior Chef, to make it an interesting, engaging experience.’

So, from this coming summer term, even more new and returning Junior Chefs are invited to have a go at exciting new recipes to build their skills and confidence. Martin says: ’50 per cent are returning students who have been coming for quite a few years.’ The young chefs come from all sorts of backgrounds and with all sorts of levels of ability – a number of them will be studying for a GCSE in Food Technology at school, for example, or for their Duke of Edinburgh Award.

Personalised chef whites are available for parents to buy. Martin says: ‘They all look like mini chefs.’ Flo adds: ‘They see all the celebrity chefs on TV and want to have their own jacket with their own name on it – they can even put a tasting spoon in the pocket.’

The course normally starts off with bread-making of some description, with Martin saying: ‘The first week we want to get to know them and get to know their ability. We don’t want to throw them into something technical on the first day.’

Beyond that, he says: ‘We try to keep it seasonal. We finish with a showstopper each time, so it was a simnel cake at the end of the spring term.’ Young chefs can also learn about sugar craft with lecturer Cindy McCann, in one of the sessions. Martin and Flo have been busy brainstorming ideas for the summer term – expect BBQ marinades, picnic hamper goodies, and more!

Martin enjoys watching the youngsters progress and recalls: ‘A couple of them couldn’t cook at all – one burnt everything!’ But Flo adds: ‘It’s about trying to see the positive – to start with they are young and inexperienced and not so confident.’

The Junior Chefs will learn all about food hygiene as well as health and safety in the kitchen. Sharon says: ‘It’s a course that will enable them to have life skills, to take to university, say. And it can fire up their passion. All of a sudden, from not knowing what they want to do in life at such a young age, they are experiencing the buzz and the excitement of the kitchen.

‘One of the key things to get across is you don’t have to already have a skill in it – you just have to have a passion and an interest and the skill you will learn. And that goes for all our cookery classes that we run.’

  • The next 10-week Junior Chef course starts on April 27 and runs until July 6 (excluding June 1). It takes place from 9.30am to 12.30pm on a Saturday. There will also be a Junior Chef Summer Academy School, from July 29 to August 2.
  • Also, a new 5-week leisure course for adults called a Taste of the Middle East begins on April 24, running from 6-9pm.

Featured in issue 35 – April 2019

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