Heston Blumenthal Launches College Catering Course to Reward Curiosity and Experimentation
Three-Michelin-starred chef Heston Blumenthal has launched a catering course syllabus that will see students schooled in the approaches and techniques he pioneered, in partnership with Activate Learning’s City of Oxford College.
The six-week syllabus, which is built to reward curiosity and experimentation among students of all qualification levels, encourages students to explore unusual flavour combinations and approaches, while pursuing a more holistic approach to learning about cuisine.
Designed by the team from Blumenthal’s Fat Duck in Bray, Berkshire, including development chef Otto Romer, the course will be introduced to the college’s syllabus as well as Activate Learning’s other sites in Banbury and Bicester, Bracknell and Wokingham, and Reading.
The launch comes as the industry looks to remodel education to make a career in hospitality more enticing to a new generation of potential talent. Blumenthal told The Caterer: “An area a lot of cooking and catering colleges hadn’t previously considered so much was that cooking is one thing, but the eating and the relationship with the food is what ties it together”
The chef, who also helped craft the exam board OCR’s GCSE in Food and Nutrition added: “My ambition is to change the education system and at least get this subject back as mandatory for GCSE and at least optional at A-level instead of being optional at GCSE and dropped at A-level. Just spreading the word – it’s about our relationship and our gratitude and our appreciation of the food we eat and cook.”
The launch of the program follows the closure of college kitchens and restaurants including Runshaw College’s restaurant in Lancashire and Accrington and Rossendale – which cited students moving into apprenticeship roles as a key reason for the discontinuing of its catering courses.
Paul Buckey, a lecturer at City of Oxford with ten-years’ experience, said colleges still had an important part to play in cultivating talent. He added: “Because the students are in a safe environment they can make mistakes. You learn more by making mistakes and because they’re in college in some of our lessons they can do that, and they don’t have to be ashamed of it.”