Next week, about 1,000 young people will congregate in London to undergo four days of gruelling competition in which their skills and stamina will be tested to the full. Janet Harmer reports on the hospitality industry's involvement in WorldSkills London 2011
After up to two years of preparation, the final countdown has begun for the world's largest, international skills competition. Today (Friday) Ben Murphy, Stefan Howells and Wojciech Pastor - representing the hospitality industry - will be joining their colleagues in TeamUK for the build-up to the four-day event, which gets underway at ExCel, London, on 5 October.
Involving 1,000 competitors from more than 55 countries competing in 46 vocational skills, WorldSkills London 2011 will be the 41st occasion that the competition has been held. Alongside the cooking, confectionery and pastry cookery, and restaurant service skills being tested, there will also be hairdressing, bricklaying, joinery, landscape gardening and jewellery making.
The home team are hoping that the advantage of being in London for only the third time since World Skills was launched will help boost its ranking from seventh in Calgary, Canada, two years ago (up four place since the event was held in Shizuoka, Japan, in 2007).
Team UK are looking to be ranked among the top five countries, as well as win 10 medals, including five gold. South Korea has topped the medal table for the past two competitions, with Japan, Brazil and Switzerland also ranked consistently high.
With 150,000 visitors expected to attend, the event is an opportunity to inspire and encourage future generations of young people to consider the opportunities and career progression which can stem from vocational training.
"It is just as important for the UK public to get behind Team UK at WorldSkills London 2011, as it is for them to support Team GB at the 2012 Olympics nine months later", said Will Torrent, who achieved a medallion of excellence and sixth placing in the confectioner/pastry cook category in Japan in 2007.
BEN MURPHY, 20
Commis chef, Koffmann's
Team manager Michael Godfrey, executive head chef, Eton College (Sodexo)
Key tasks Vegetarian menu: starter and main course; mystery meat main (game) course and plated dessert; brunch service; and duck variation: starter and consommé
Biggest challenge of your event? The mystery fish dish could be tricky and ensuring the oxtail consommé is absolutely clear is always very difficult.
How has the training helped develop your skills? It has given a new insight into different food and techniques. In particular, I've learnt a lot about plating up dishes and building up flavours, as well as improving my pastry skills.
What do you hope to gain from WorldSkills? A gold medal would be great.
What's your future ambition? To open my own restaurant, somewhere in London, by time I'm 30.
STEFAN HOWELLS, 21
Pastry chef, Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons, Great Milton, OxforshireTeam manager Yolande Stanley, consultant lecturer, Westminster Kingsway College, London
Key tasks Mise-en-place; marzipan modelling; sugar centre piece up to one metre high; chocolate making (four varieties); plated dessert; small cakes/petits fours (four varieties); two entremets.
Biggest challenge of your event? Completing all the tasks to the best of my ability on time.
How has the training helped develop your skills? I previously had no sugar skills at all, now I can create a one metre high centre piece. At 6ft 5ins tall, some of the finer pastry work can be tricky for me - however, my height works to my advantage when it comes to the sugar skills as I can pull ribbons which are six feet long - as long as my arm span. Because of my size, we've had to ask the organisers to increase the height of my working table by eight inches!
What do you hope to gain from WorldSkills? A gold medal and networking amongst people from so many different countries.
What's your future ambition? I hope to travel the world and look for inspiration before I settle down and open a restaurant or patisserie. I'm particularly keen to spend some time in Japan.
WOJCIECH PASTOR, 20
Chef-de-rang, Gleneagles hotel, Auchteraarder, Perthshire
Team manager Ian Whitaker, chief executive, Cairngorm Mountain
Key tasks Individual tasks including preparing and serving cocktails, a flambé dish and a carved dish; casual dining service; banqueting service; and fine dining service.
Biggest challenge of your event? Putting everything into practice that I have learnt from nearly two years of training, whilst staying focused and not getting too nervous. Coming from a fine dining background, the casual dining module, providing good service in a more informal setting, is my biggest challenge.
How has the training helped develop your skills? It has helped me progress much more quickly in my career and as a result I was promoted from commis to chef-de-rang 10 months ago.
What do you hope to gain from WorldSkills? The fantastic experience of competing alongside 24 other competitors from all over the world, whilst working under enormous pressure
What's your future ambition? To become an expert in restaurant service and work in top restaurants around the world.
hospitality have a go
To inspire young people to think about vocational training and the career path which could follow, the Have A Go area will provide them with the opportunity to have a taster of different professions. The hospitality industry intends to create the most impressive and crowd-pulling zone with a series of highly interactive and engaging tasks on offer.
Co-ordinated by Springboard and with sponsorship from Marriott, Hilton Worldwide, Sodexo, Ed's Easy Diner, Art of Service, Whitbread, Aramark, Park Plaza Principal Hayley, Hand Picked Hotels, Hit and Hospitality Staff, the hospitality Have A Go zone will include:
â- Omelette making competition
â- Mocktail making
â- Fine dining table setting
â- Five star bed making
â- Meetings and events challenge
participating in future worldskills
The majority of Team UK competitors for WorldSkills London 2011 were asked to compete for a place after excelling at WorldSkills UK, the national set of skills competitions. To be in with a chance of representing the UK at the next WorldSkills Competition in Leipzig, Germany, in 2013, register now for the next cycle of WorldSkills UK Competitions. For more information, visit www.worldskillsuk.org
ATTENDING WORLDSKILLS LONDON 2011
The event runs from 5 to 8 October at ExCel, London. For further information, visit:
By Janet Harmer
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