Two Oxfordshire school chefs have completed a fine dining cooking experience ahead of the new school term.
Part of the LACA’s national initiative Host a School Chef, Jill Hall from Trinity Primary School in Henley-on-Thames and Debbie Rice from North Kidlington School, both spent the day in the kitchens of Raymond Blanc’s renowned Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat’ Saisons.
From experiencing the day to day workings of the kitchen and restaurant, to exploring and learning about the produce grown on site, both chefs have been able to use the experience to learn new skills and take back a host of new ideas to the school kitchen.
“Both Debbie and I agreed that to spend the day in the world-famous Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat’ Saisons, has to be the highlight of our catering careers,” says Jill Hall, school chef at Trinity Primary School in Henley-on-Thames. “The skill and professionalism of Gary and his team was truly outstanding to behold and a first-hand experience of what it takes to retain two Michelin Stars for 35 years.
“To take part in the operation for the day was a privilege and everyone was so helpful and inclusive,” continues Hall. “What was the icing on the cake for me was during our tour of the herb and vegetable gardens, I mentioned to Gary that we have a ‘growing club’ at Trinity Primary where the children grow their own produce for use in the school kitchen. I now have an open invitation to visit Belmond Le Manoir with my ‘growing club’ where Gary is going to take them on a tour of the gardens and enjoy a picnic – absolutely incredible.”
“It was an absolutely amazing day and an experience we will both never forget,” adds Debbie Rice, school chef at North Kidlington School. “To be given the opportunity to work alongside executive head chef Gary Jones and the brigade was really quite unbelievable; we were made to feel most welcome and very much part of the team. To then have the mouth-watering food served up as our lunch was absolutely wonderful and really capped the whole experience.
“It was a terrific insight into the world of haute cuisine and I have picked up lots of tips and ideas to take back to school with me,” adds Rice. “Thanks to LACA’s Host a School Chef team, their sponsors Alaska Seafood UK, Oxfordshire CC Catering and of course the very generous staff at Belmond Le Manoir for making this happen.”
“It was a pleasure to host Jill and Debbie and for them to work with the team here at Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat’ Saisons,” says Gary Jones, executive head chef at Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat’ Saisons. “They enjoyed their day and it is good to share knowledge and experiences across all sectors of this wonderful industry.”