A top North East hotel has joined forces with one of the area’s premier catering colleges to help nurture the culinary stars of the future.
Jesmond Dene House in Newcastle is working with Tyne Metropolitan College to foster a new generation of kitchen talent.
With the help of TyneMet, head chef Michael Penaluna is building a professional team to work in his kitchen to help prepare the gastronomic delights served up daily in Jesmond Dene House’s award winning restaurant.
TyneMet College now has four apprentices working with Michael at the 19th century mansion and Grade II listed building overlooking Newcastle’s picturesque Jesmond Dene.
Alex Ridley, 16, from Whickham, Gateshead; Michael Traynor, 18, from Newbiggin Hall and Karl Azcarraga, 17, from Benwell, both Newcastle, and Victor Smith, 22, from South Shields, are the apprentices who were recruited by TyneMet to study on the Hospitality and Catering (Professional Cookery) Apprenticeship programme.
They go to college one day per week to be taught the theoretical and practical skills of professional cookery.
The rest of the time they work under the professional guidance of Michael to gain hands on experience of working in the kitchen of a luxury hotel and restaurant where they will be introduced to classic techniques and contemporary approaches to producing modern dishes.
Pat Blyth, Business Development Consultant at TyneMet College, said: “We’ve been training apprentices at Jesmond Dene House for a couple of years now. When Michael Penaluna took over as head chef eight months ago, he asked TyneMet to find him an apprentice.
“I advertised the vacancy for him, interviewed suitable candidates and then sent the apprentice on a one day’s trial to work in the kitchen to make sure that the potential apprentice and Michael understood exactly how the arrangement would work.
“Michael and his team were really pleased with this process and the apprentice settled in to working as part of a very busy and creative team.”
To ensure the smooth running of the apprenticeship programme, regular reviews and assessment led by the college took place.
Michael was so impressed with the process, the apprenticeship programme and the support he received from the college that he decided to add to his team and within two months he had four apprentices working in his kitchen.
He has recently indicated that he will be looking to take on other apprentices in the near future.
Michael said: “I currently have four chefs from TyneMet College working in the kitchen here at Jesmond Dene House who have been working with me now for six months.
“The young chefs were sourced by TyneMet College and to begin with, all were sent to Jesmond Dene House for a day’s trial to make sure that I was happy with their calibre before their work contracts began.
“Not only does the college find the talented young chefs, but they also provide on-going support and carry out reviews with myself to make sure that I am happy with their work and progress within the kitchen.
“I could not be happier with the four chefs I have at the moment, they work incredibly hard and have fitted into the team exceptionally well.
“I have found that they have excellent communication and time keeping skills and now play vital roles within the Jesmond Dene House kitchen team.
“From the start of employment, I noticed they all had excellent preparation skills and could work well under pressure. However, in just six months I can see major improvements in the already high standard of skills displayed. They also display a willingness and determination to learn and improve.
“By working together with TyneMet College I am creating a very strong team and producing chefs to work to the highest standard possible as Jesmond Dene House generates some of the finest food in the North East.”
The current apprenticeship programme is fully subscribed and there is another planned to start at the beginning of February.
Find out more about food in the North East of England here.
Category: Industry news