Cookery school Tante Marie in Woking, Surrey, has launched its first Government-accredited culinary diploma, which it claims is one of the highest rated culinary qualifications in the UK.
The private cookery school, which is part-owned by Gordon Ramsay Holdings, has introduced a Level Four Diploma in Professional Culinary Arts, which it runs in addition to its traditional Cordon Bleu Diploma.
The new qualification, which has been accredited by the Confederation of Tourism and Hospitality, covers all aspects of the professional kitchen. Tante Marie launched the Level Four Diploma in Professional Culinary Arts in response to the Government's new immigration laws, which require students from outside the European Union to study at a Government-accredited institution.
Andrew Maxwell, managing director and principal at Tante Marie, told Caterer that the new diploma was one of the highest rated cookery qualifications in the UK. "It is our first externally-accredited diploma, which at 96 credits within the Government's Qualifications Credit Framework is the one of the highest-rated in the UK, above the NVQ Level Three qualification," he said.
"It is a very practically focused course that covers everything from the basics such as knife skills to cost control, nutrition and menu planning, as well as a three-day wine certificate."
However, Maxwell added that, on average, only 30% of Tante Marie students end up taking positions within the industry, with many choosing other career paths such as food writing. Moreover, at a cost of £17,000 and £12,900 for 33 or 22 intensive weeks respectively, industry figures have questioned the benefits of the course to the industry.
Matt Owens, executive pastry chef, Zuidam UK and Craft Guild of Chefs' schools and colleges representative, told Caterer the course was a "fantastic opportunity" covering a very broad range of skills at various levels. "But it seems to appeal only to a certain kind of student, as it's very expensive, so I'm not sure how many people who complete it] will go into the industry," he added. "Someone who wants to go into cheffing won't earn that as a commis chef."
Owens' point was echoed by David Foskett, professor of hospitality at Thames Valley University, who said: "This course is very expensive and there is still insufficient detail to appreciate whether it is a Level Four course, which matches higher education standards.
"There are some very good foundation degrees in culinary arts offered by a few universities which do provide Level Five practical skills together with the business skills required by the industry, which makes students extremely employable."
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