YOUNG chefs from Wirral have been given a taste of life at the cutting edge of dining.
A group of 14-year-old students took over a restaurant for a day and sampled every aspect of the industry – from devising a menu and preparing the food to laying the tables and waiting on customers.
Helen and Nick Castree, owners of Something Special in Upton Village, handed over their restaurant to the youngsters as part of their training on a pilot two-year training programme being run by Wirral Metropolitan College.
Normally students spend one day a week at The Birches training restaurant on the Conway Park campus at Birkenhead.
However, Helen who, with her husband is a trainer and assessor at Wirral Met, said: “We thought it would be a great idea to give them a taste of what life is really like running a restaurant – so we handed Something Special over to them for the day.
“They were all very excited about what was in store for them. They worked really hard and it was an amazing experience for them.”
The students’ menu was prawn and feta salad followed by pan-fried fillet of pork served with a creamy apple and Calvados sauce, potatoes and a selection of vegetables and then dessert of strawberry cheesecake.
Among the diners was their chef tutor Steve Astles who believes that the catering day release course, part of a three-way link between Wirral Met, schools and local employers in the hospitality trade, is putting the young chefs ahead of others setting out on full-time catering courses.
He said: “When they start out so young, it’s fantastic to watch their skills and confidence grow.”
The young students are following in the footsteps of famous names in the world of food who were trained at Wirral Met.
Among them are Gary Jones, who is executive head chef at Raymond Blanc’s restaurant Le Manoir Aux Quat’Saisons in Oxfordshire, and top Liverpool chef Paul Askew, who is proprietor of the city’s London Carriageworks restaurant.