Year 5 and 6 pupils also learned front-of-house skills such as folding napkins and setting tables for fine dining over three days of visits to the Orme View restaurant at the college’s Rhos-on-Sea campus.
Classes from Ysgol Craig y Don in Llandudno and Ysgol Cynfran in Llysfaen each spent a day at the college as part of the Reaching Wider scheme, which aims to help youngsters overcome barriers to higher education.
Glenydd Hughes, hospitality tutor at Coleg Llandrillo, said: “School children come in to be trainee chefs for a day, cultivating aspiration with a flavour of the hospitality industry.
“During the day, the children are given their chefs’ hats and aprons and have an introduction to the kitchen and dining areas. They have a taste and smell activity, a mini cooking session and a talk from the chef and an HE student, linking it to the careers in hospitality and culinary arts and qualification journey.”
Pupils from each class were split into two groups, with some spending the morning in the kitchen and some in the front-of-house, before swapping over for the afternoon session.
After a safety and hygiene talk and a practical cooking demonstration, the children were given a quiz in which they got to smell and taste various spices, fruit and vegetables.
Those in the kitchen in the morning made Bolognese for lunch, while the afternoon group cooked scones for all learners to take home. In the front-of-house, the children folded napkins, laid the tables and mixed non-alcoholic cocktails, also watching catering students set cherries alight in a flambé demonstration.
Glenydd said: “It’s all about getting them interested in the hospitality industry. It’s through Bangor University and it’s to get children who may be from deprived areas interested in university degrees. It’s about showing them what they can do.
“We’re hoping to get them young so they can get a feel for the place, so hopefully we can get them into our FE system and onto our higher education system.
“And they get to work with our FE students, gaining experience of working in teams. It's an excellent experience for our students as well. They’re working with young people so they’ve had to step up, and they’ve shown a lot of maturity and been really good with them.”
Huw Llewelyn Jones, Year 6 teacher at Ysgol Craig y Don, said: “What’s been nice is that some of the pupils who struggle academically in school have starred today. An experience like this with practical activities gives those pupils a chance to shine and feel like they’ve accomplished something.
“They’ve thoroughly enjoyed it. They’ve done everything with a smile on their face and have really enjoyed having a hands-on experience. They’re very excited about making scones this afternoon and also making mocktails.
“What I’m hoping for from the experience is for them to really see a future for themselves, and to perhaps get a different outlook on life and see that they have strengths that are not necessarily academic strengths but involve other skills such as creative skills.”
Owen Rogers, headteacher of Ysgol Cynfran, said: “It’s been a fantastic experience and an opportunity for the children to apply some real-life skills at an early age. The soundbites I’ve heard from the children today have all been positive and some have said things like ‘I want to do this when I grow up’.
“They wouldn’t be able to do this in a primary school or even in a secondary school because they don’t have the luxury of these facilities. It’s practical and hands on so it’s playing to all learners’ strengths.
“The children appreciate that they’re using their literacy and numeracy skills, such as using the right amounts of ingredients, or folding the napkins into triangles or rectangles. So they’re putting their curriculum experience into practical use in a real-life situation, and it helps them appreciate why they’re learning these things in the classroom.
“We have a lot of diversity in the school, and the children are learning skills that we often take for granted. They’re learning cooking skills, social skills - children are becoming more resilient again after Covid, and seeing a group of eight children coming together round a table and talking, it’s what you want to see.
“We wouldn’t be able to provide this in our curriculum coverage so that’s why we’re so lucky to have Glen’s support and the support of the college.”
For more information about hospitality and catering courses at Grŵp Llandrillo Menai, click here. For information about the full range of courses available across all subject areas, click here.