Northumberland College students were crowned North East Culinary and Trade Association (NECTA) Champions for the first time in the College’s history after securing five gold, four silver and 12 bronze medals as well as three trophies, two cups and the overall competition winners plate.
The competition took place at Newcastle Racecourse on 5 April and included a mixture of competitions, live classes, displays and exhibits.
The College entered 18 students into the competition and secured 21 medals overall, placing in every category they entered, including Knife Skills, Sugar Craft, Vegetarian, Chicken Preparation, Mille Feuille and a Team Competition.
41-year-old Dawn Carr from Cramlington, who is studying towards her NVQ Level 3 in Professional Cookery won the most medals of the day for the college, securing a Gold in the Chicken Larder heat, which included carving two whole chickens in 30 minutes in two different styles, supreme and sautéed and then two bronzes' for her performance within the team event.
Dawn said: "I am so proud to be part of a fantastic hard-working winning team and thrilled with my three medals. I've been preparing for this competition both in classes and at home and have also volunteered in the College's restaurant, The Gallery, on my days off to gain extra experience to ensure I was competition ready.
"It was an honour to be picked for the team event to represent the College alongside my tutor David Jackson.
"The team were so supportive to one another and we all thoroughly enjoyed the experience. I've always loved to cook and from this competition experience I hope it'll take me once step closer to completing my dream of owning my own business in this sector."
The students had weeks of training preparing for the competition and their continuous efforts reflected on their fantastic results.
Hospitality and Catering Course Leader, David Jackson, said: "The competition was a great success and we are ecstatic with the results. To do so well is an unbelieve achievement for both the students and the college."
Further success included NVQ Level 2 Professional Cookery student, 17-year-oldNatasha Drummond from Newbiggin, who took Gold in the Knife Skills competition which included peeling and preparing vegetables to strict measurements.
Natasha said: "My heat involved preparing vegetables in different styles including Brunoise and Paysanne. I was so nervous at first but once I got to my station in front of an encouraging audience my competitive streak pushed through.
"I was so shocked to find out I had won, it's a huge achievement. My tutors and team are so experienced, professional and supportive, we all cheered each other on throughout the day."
The NECTA competition offers an excellent opportunity for all chefs and front-of-house personnel to present their skill and talents in a professional, but friendly environment and to profit from an exchange of ideas and knowledge.
Northumberland College appointed a new Head of Hospitality in the summer, Andy Brown, which saw 24 years of experience within the catering and teaching industry added to the team.
Andy said: "To be crowned North East Champions at NECTA is a huge honour and something our team, led by tutor, David Jackson, fully deserved after what was an excellent all round display.
"The victory is further evidence of the improvement that the Hospitality Department here at Northumberland College has made recently.
"It hopefully sends a clear message to anybody wanting to study hospitality that the skills you develop at our college are second to none."
This year, Northumberland College also had a competitor in the North East Future Chef of the Year 2017 for the first time in the College's history.
Douglas Jordan, chairman of NECTA, commented: "NECTA Future Chef is the only competition of its kind in our region and gives all aspiring young chefs who take part the opportunity to develop their careers within the industry."
All eight competitors who secured a place had a professional mentor and the College's entry, 32-year-old NVQ Level 2 Professional Cookery student,Scott Burns from Choppington worked with Head Chef at Pleased to Meet you, David Kennedy.
David Kennedy said: "It is great to be involved with Northumberland College and its 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 at Northumberland College. These young people are the future of our industry and its crucial we support their development in any way we can."
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.
Andy added: "Changes to our qualifications will further strengthen the training on offer. The students are thrilled with the outcome and I'm already looking forward to defending our title in 2018."
Since September, students at the college 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 Gallery restaurant, which is situated in Northumberland College's Ashington Campus, comfortably seats up to 40 diners, offering fine dining and a professional and friendly service.
This year the restaurant hosted its very first ten-course degustation and wine pairing event and regular themed evenings, including the popular Steak Night. The Gallery has also recently welcomed a host of guest chefs including David Kennedy and Jonathon McManus, Head Chef at Alnwick Castle.
The restaurant is available to hire out and bookings may be made by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
To apply and find out more about Hospitality and Catering courses at Northumberland College please visit www.northumberland.ac.uk