Celebrity chef gives Norwich students food for thought

Thirty professional cookery students from City College Norwich were treated to a master class by celebrity chef and former student Tom Aikens.

Tom returned to his old college to meet current students and showcase the techniques and standards he expects of budding chefs in his own restaurants. Using locally sourced produce including edible flowers and baby vegetables from Nurtured in Norfolk in Dereham, which supplies wholesalers and Michelin star restaurants with quality produce, Tom demonstrated a range of cooking skills.

Celebrity chefTom, along with his brother Robert, trained at City College Norwich on his journey to becoming an internationally successful Celebrity chef. He ran his first kitchen at the age of 26 and today runs restaurants in Britain, Hong Kong and the Middle East but still feels a strong connection to the college which gave him a start in the industry.

He was invited back to his old college by the national education charity Future First which is working with the college to help them build an alumni community. By harnessing the time, talents and resources of their former students, Future First hopes to motivate and inspire City College Norwich students to career confidence.

Tom talked to the students about their career aspirations and told them that, with hard work and dedication, they too can unlock a world of opportunity in the restaurant business.

He said:

“When you are still at that learning stage it can be quite hard for students to see what the future might hold for them.  From my standpoint, it’s trying to instil the confidence and belief that you can go and achieve great things – it’s just a matter of putting the time and effort in. I have a lot of time for City College Norwich, I have a lot of good memories here, as did my brother. It’s always nice to come back and give the students that confidence in what they are doing, that self-belief, because it is a great career to go into.”

Joe Mulhall, Curriculum Programme Manager at City College Norwich said:Celebrity chef

“We are very proud of what students can and have achieved in the hospitality sector. Today’s visit from Tom Aikens has been inspirational, hearing how he has positively progressed within the industry, along with a fantastic cooking demonstration. Our students took the opportunity to ask Tom some questions, become inspired and develop some additional cooking techniques that they can apply to their work while on their course and in their future careers after leaving college.”   

Christine GIlbert, Chair of Future First and a former Ofsted Chief Inspector said:

"Every state school should have the opportunity to succeed in life after school regardless of their background. If students see' people like me' have succeeded, they are more likely to believe they can too. They work harder and have higher expectations of success. We want more schools to see the benefits of using their alumni as a powerful resource."

For further information on the Celebrity chef, master class contact sue.crabtree@futurefirst.org.uk or call one of the Future First team on 0207 239 8933