A teenage, multi-award winning trainee chef recently got the opportunity to advance his culinary skills after completing a stint at a Michelin-starred restaurant!
Dalton Weir, 19, from Mochdre, who is studying on the City and Guilds Level 3 Diploma In Advanced Professional Cookery at Coleg Llandrillo's Rhos-on-Sea campus, was not only chosen for a one week, work placement at The Elephant Restaurant in Torquay, but was also awarded a bursary to cover his expenses.
The Ex-Ysgol John Bright pupil won a Welsh Livery Guild bursary for £1,000, after beating off stiff completion from scores of the college's Hospitality and Catering students.
Dalton "achieved the dream of working alongside a Michelin star chef", after being accepted onto the placement by restaurant owner and celebrity chef Simon Hulstone. With multiple successes at the highest levels of competitive cooking behind him, Simon is now succeeding in the restaurant arena, holding a Michelin star at his Torquay eatery since 2004.
Dalton explained how it all came about:
Earlier this year, I qualified for Britain's biggest culinary competition: Toque D'or. During the competition in London, I got speaking to one of the head judges, Simon Hulstone, and I soon found out that he owned a Michelin star restaurant in Torquay called The Elephant. After a while I was intrigued and was determined to work alongside him at his restaurant.
On returning to North Wales, I wrote to Simon and was surprised to hear back that he was keen to offer me a work experience placement. The trouble was that I had to cover the costs, paying for my own travel, accommodation and meals.
Luckily my tutor Brian told me about the Welsh Livery Guild award which is available in order to help young people develop their professional skills. I applied for the bursary and was placed on the list of finalists, and after an in-depth interview I was awarded the bursary.
On arrival at The Elephant, the atmosphere in the kitchen was intense and extremely focused. Everything on the dishes was there for a reason. It looked simple but was actually full of flavour and expertly thought-out to perfection. The chefs worked long hours: 8am to 3pm, then everyone had a good meal at 5.00pm before returning to work from 5.30pm to 11pm. But it was worth the effort and I enjoyed every second of it.
This work experience has given me an understanding of the highest standards of cooking and what is required to be excellent. I will take the knowledge and tips and tricks learned and use them in my future competitions, on the road to becoming a professional chef.
Dalton has been interested in cookery from a young age after taking the subject at school. His list of competitive achievements since enrolling at college is impressive: he won Gold in the 'Street Food' category at this year's Welsh International Culinary Championships; qualified for the final of the UK Young Seafood Chef of the Year competition; represented Wales at the Future Talents competition in Holland; was among the Welsh team that took part in the acclaimed Toque D'or competition at The Dorchester Hotel in London, as well as recently qualifying for the 'Skills Competition Wales - Hospitality' national final after winning the North Wales heat.
He will also be jetting off to Luxembourg this weekend, where he will be supporting Culinary Team Wales at a major international catering competition: the Culinary World Cup.
Coleg Llandrillo assistant principal Lesley Tipping said:
Well done Dalton on realising such an amazing opportunity. This will be something that will stand out on your ever-increasing CV in the future! To see learners so motivated and successful in their endeavours is what makes us proud of what we all do.
The college was recently awarded an 'excellent' by Estyn for its Hospitality and Catering provision.
For more information on our courses in Hospitality and Catering, please visit: www.gllm.ac.uk/hospitality
Or call the college's Learner Services team on 01492 542 338.