20 May 2016

One of the UK’s most distinguished chefs, Sat Bains, gave West Nottinghamshire College students a taste of what it takes to succeed in the restaurant business.

The two Michelin-star Chef Patron spoke to trainee chefs and aspiring hospitality professionals about the route towards a rewarding career, saying:

“There is no such thing as a fast-track. Develop your skills and set yourselves five-year and ten-year plans.”

His advice came courtesy of a question-and-answer session with a group of 40 students on the college’s culinary skills, professional cookery, and hospitality supervision and leadership diploma courses.

The celebrated culinary figure told students how he entered the industry on the back of a college education – and gave tips on how they could achieve their own ambitions.

Toni King, 31, from Kirkby-in-Ashfield, who studies the Level 2 Diploma in Culinary Skills, said:

“It was amazing to have somebody of Sat’s stature come into college and share his experience with us.

“Sat really inspires me and he’s somebody I look-up to. He’s reached a level that I want to be at in the future and because he started out like us, it shows that if he can do it, we can too – and that gives me the strength to want to succeed.”

Jay Tyler-Watson, 19, from Mansfield, who studies the Level 3 Diploma in Hospitality Leadership and Supervision, said:

“I was lucky enough to meet Sat last year when he came to college, so it was nice to hear how he’s progressed and learn some new things.

“Sat has been in the exact same situation as we have, so he’s somebody we can relate to. Getting people from the industry to come and talk to students is one of the best things a college can do. The more experience we get, the better.”

The chef, whose renowned Nottingham establishment Restaurant Sat Bains with Rooms currently ranks number-one in The Sunday Times Top 100 Restaurants list, said:

“I haven’t come from a gastronomic background; my parents weren’t cooks and food wasn’t a major part of our household – so my message is ‘If I can do it, I believe anyone can’.

“We’re trying to build a culture of longevity across the industry as a whole, so if I can inspire young people to do well, we’re only going to be wealthier as an industry. But you’ve got to start at this level, when they’re getting their education at college.”

Sat praised the college’s approach to vocational training, which sees professional cookery and hospitality students helping to run its fine-dining restaurant Refined alongside experienced chefs and front-of-house tutors as part of their studies. One of its Chef Tutors, Mark Jones, spent two years working as a Sous Chef at Sat’s restaurant before joining the college to pass on his skills to the next generation.

Sat said:

“Students are getting top-quality mentoring by chefs and front-of-house professionals who are actually from the industry; the kitchen facilities are incredible and the restaurant is fantastic – so they have everything they need to perform at the highest level.

“It means you’re giving them the best possibility of leaving college with the solid skills to work in a restaurant kitchen or hotel, or go into whichever position they want to, so that they’re ready for the industry.

“Hopefully, they’ll go onwards and upwards from here.”

The chef, who is well-known face on television thanks to appearances on hit BBC shows Masterchef, Saturday Kitchen and Great British Menu, was visiting the college to judge the best young chef category of this year’s Nottinghamshire Food and Drink Awards.

The ‘cook-off’, on Tuesday 17 May, was staged in the college’s training kitchens for the second year running. It saw six cooks aged 18-22 from restaurants across the county battle it out to create a winning main course and dessert, with the winner due to be announced at an awards ceremony hosted by celebrity chef Aldo Zilli on 22 June at the East Midlands Conference Centre, Nottingham.

After being tasted and scored by Sat and co-judges Jonathan Hyman of The Fruit Basket Direct, of West Bridgford, Nottingham, and Richard Taylor, of Own Taylor Butchers, of Alfreton, Derbyshire, each competitors’ two dishes were showcased to guests attending a sponsors’ dinner in Refined, with food and service at the glittering event provided by students under the direction of tutors and staff.

West Nottinghamshire College provides education and training to some 30,000 full- and part-time students across all major industry sectors and at pre-GCSE to university level.