Following Northumberland College’s investment of more than £14million in new facilities which included a brand-new restaurant and additional professional kitchen, its School of Hospitality and Catering has continued to grow and has now welcomed a new hospitality director bringing with him top industry contacts and new curriculum plans.
The latest appointment of Andy Brown as academy head of hospitality and catering sees 24 years of experience within the catering and teaching industry added to the team, with a clear vision of the culture he hopes to create at Northumberland College.
Andy said: "At Northumberland College we have clear ideas on the direction of travel for students to be educated and developed within.
Having a strong and varied industry based enrichment programme is central to how students will be developed - giving them the opportunity to see and be involved in as many varied opportunities as possible."
With fundamental support from industry partners, Northumberland College's Hospitality and Catering students will develop awareness of the breadth of the industry.
Andy explains: "We want students to be proud of where they come from and have a full understanding of the products that are produced in Northumberland as well as be aware of current trends in the hospitality industry."
"Facilities at the college's Kirkley Hall campus give us a unique opportunity to teach our students about food origins. Working in collaboration with the farm and horticulture department we aim to develop a farm to plate ethos that will showcase in our flagship Gallery Restaurant, no other catering students in the region will have that opportunity."
Since September, students have visited some of the finest dining establishments in the North East, including the Crowne Plaza and Jesmond Dene House. Plus, they have been to manufacturers and wholesalers including Taylor Seafood's, giving the learners the opportunity to hear from industry experts.
The students also benefit from guest visitors and chefs to the college, including Head Chef David Kennedy from Pleased to Meet You, Newcastle, who has been working closely with the College, working in The Gallery restaurant helping to train and mentor the students in their own workspace.
David Kennedy said: "It is great to get involved with what Andy and his team are trying to achieve at Northumberland College. It is vital students on Hospitality courses are educated in a rounded way which gives exposure to all elements of the industry and hosting evenings within the Gallery Restaurant, with leading local hotels and restaurants is all part of the culture that is developing here at Northumberland College. These young people are the future of our industry and its crucial we support their development in any way we can."
Students will be competing in the North East Culinary Trade Association's (NECTA) inter-college competition in April and this year, for the first time for the college, a student has been entered into the Future Chef category.
Andy added: "I want the students to develop and be aspirational as well as develop self-belief. We will give students as many opportunities as possible to compete in competitions on a regional level to test ourselves against the other colleges in the region."
Level 2 Hospitality and Catering student 34- year-old Scott Burn said: "I'm very excited to be competing in the NECTA Future Chef competition. It will be very challenging and a lot of pressure, but with the support from my college tutors and mentor, David Kennedy from Pleased to Meet You, I'll be going in confident and prepared."
Over the next six months further developments within Northumberland College's School of Hospitality and Catering will see the introduction of new technical qualifications at Level 2 starting in September.
The Gallery restaurant has also seen further improvements, with the introduction of themed menus and nights, including guest chefs, taster menus, steak nights and game nights as well as offering a seasonal lunch-time menu.
The UK hospitality and catering sector continues to see growth and currently employs a workforce of more than 2.5 million.
To find out more about courses in Hospitality and Catering please visit www.northumberland.ac.uk.