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High school students get a taste of the hospitality industry

Nearly 500 learners watched demos from professional chefs, took part in cooking challenges and created their own dishes as part of the Tourism Talent Pathfinder

Students from across Denbighshire were given a unique taste of the hospitality industry at Rhyl High School thanks to Coleg Llandrillo’s Tourism Talent Pathfinder.

Over two days at the school, pupils were treated to a demo from Jimmy Williams, executive chef at Signatures in Conwy. They also took part in interactive workshop ‘The School Food Showdown’, and witnessed a flambé and mocktails demonstration.

Year 7 students were given a goodie bag containing activity booklets on basic life skills, cooking, chopping and nutrition, and a healthy snack to try.

Year 10 students were given the fresh ingredients to cook a risotto, plus a menu card, apron, measuring spoons and wooden cooking implements to take home.

The visit was organised as part of a Shared Prosperity Fund project called Tourism Talent Pathfinder, which aims to inspire fresh talent to join the hospitality and tourism sector, while preserving North Wales' language, culture and heritage.

On day one of the programme, Year 7 learners took part in The School Food Showdown, an educational and interactive show based on the TV hit ‘Ready, Steady, Cook’.

The show focuses on making healthy food choices, climaxing in an exhilarating cook-off. Through taking part in the show, children gain valuable life skills and nutritional understanding, as well as learning about cooking techniques.

More than 400 children watched the show, including 240 from Rhyl High, 170 from Ysgol Glan Clwyd in St Asaph, 20 from Ysgol Tir Morfa in Rhyl, and a Life Skills Group from Ysgol Llywelyn in Rhyl.

In the afternoon, Year 10 Hospitality students at Rhyl High watched a demonstration and taste session from Jimmy Williams.

The Signatures chef, who trained at Coleg Llandrillo, showed 60 students how to make a chicken korma with braised rice, plus popcorn cheesecake with toffee sauce and banana.

He said afterwards: “Hospitality is a very rewarding career, and I want to help get the industry going again. I said to the students, you can achieve anything if you change one thing - your mindset. You just have to put in the time and effort and have that passion.

“The students were amazing. They were really interested, they were asking me loads of questions, and some of them even asked to have photos with me at the end!”

On day two, Coleg Llandrillo catering student Rhian James gave a flambé and mocktails demonstration for the Year 10 students. They then took part in a cooking challenge in which each student made a risotto in just under an hour, under the tutelage of Coleg Llandrillo catering lecturer Glenydd Hughes.

In all, 498 pupils benefited from the two days of activities.

Lindsay Lloyd, Assistant Head at Rhyl High School, said: “The two-day experience for our pupils was fantastic, from the food showdown which had the year 7s fully engaged and involved, to Jimmy from Signatures sharing his life story with the year 10 pupils and giving them the experience of tasting high-quality dishes, following a demonstration.

“The second day of cooking workshops was enthusiastically attended by our year 10 pupils. They really appreciated working with the chef and student from the college and enjoyed the demonstrations and tasting of the mocktails and flambéed dessert.”

She added: “Events like this are vital for our pupils. They inspire them to look at their future and think about where it could lead them, opening their eyes to further education and beyond, as well as introducing them to experiences they may not otherwise have.”

Claire Jones, Grŵp Llandrillo Menai’s North Wales Tourism & Hospitality Projects Manager, said: “The Pathfinder project aims to increase awareness of career opportunities in tourism and hospitality in Denbighshire, Conwy, Gwynedd, and Ynys Môn. It seeks to change the sector's profile and perception and generate a pipeline of students to meet growing demand.

“This aligns with the Growth Deal project (currently titled) Tourism Talent Network, a ground-breaking new project uniting a brand new Centre of Excellence at Coleg Llandrillo with partners: Zip World, Portmeirion, the National Trust, and Snowdonia Hospitality & Leisure Ltd. This collaboration will provide high-quality education and training, including through further education, higher education, and apprenticeships.”

The Tourism Talent Pathfinder project is fully funded by the UK Government through the UK Shared Prosperity Fund.