The CE Academy in Northamptonshire last month opened its new purpose-built kitchen with promotional support from Alan Paton, executive head chef at Stoke by Nayland Hotel, in Suffolk.
The school is a pupil referral unit designed to provide young people from the age of 14-16 with an education in catering and the means to be able to achieve an NVQ in hospitality before they leave.
Layla Beaumont, an ex-pupil of the CE Academy returned to work for the Ofsted-approved academy in 2013. With a cooking background, Beaumont had previously set up her own business with help from the Princes Trust and saw an opportunity to utilise her knowledge and help set up the catering department.
"I wanted to show the young people that they can achieve anything they put their minds to," said Beaumont.
"In an industry where many chefs have struggled at school I believe our students can find purpose, passion and drive."
At the launch of the new kitchen which is sponsored by Bookers, Warner Edwards Gin and Tilley's Wines in Wellingborough, the guests enjoyed canapes prepared by Paton. Chef Matt Wilby and Thomas Leatherbarrow, chef-owner of Pastry Development Ltd assisted with help from the academy's students.
The event was attended by Johnathan Lewis, interim head of school standards, effectiveness and the virtual school; Stuart Coe, division secretary, National Union of Teachers; Ralph Beresford, commissioning manager, learning, skills and education, Northamptonshire County Council and industry specialists including Murray Chapman of Passion to Inspire and the founder and development chef from Infusions for chefs John Jackaman and Jeremy Medley.
Other industry chefs promising future support for the Kitchen@Spring Gardens kitchen include Richard Bertinet, Hardeep Singh Kohli and Rob Kennedy to name a few.
The fully-equipped kitchen, including induction hobs and sous vide machines donated by Dine by Design will serve 24 covers once a week to staff with the goal to eventually open an off-site restaurant for the public in the future. The site also has a kitchen garden that students help to plant, maintain and harvest.
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