Coleg Llandrillo, Coleg Menai, Coleg Meirion-Dwyfor and Busnes@LlandrilloMenai logosColeg Llandrillo, Coleg Menai, Coleg Meirion-Dwyfor and Busnes@LlandrilloMenai logos

Top chefs return to college for Alumni Gala Dinner

Bryn Williams was among a host of former Coleg Llandrillo catering students who helped raise more than £1,100 for charity

Top chefs who trained at Coleg Llandrillo returned for an Alumni Gala Dinner which raised more than £1,100 for charity.

Celebrity chef Bryn Williams was joined by fellow former students who now work for establishments including The Deganwy Quay Hotel, Dylan’s Restaurant Group, Carden Park in Cheshire and Estelle Manor in Oxfordshire.

The chefs spent the day at the Rhos-on-Sea campus where they first honed their skills, preparing a four-course evening meal for invited guests at the Orme View Restaurant.

They were aided by current students, three of whom worked in the kitchen, while others made up the front-of-house staff, gaining invaluable experience of working with accomplished chefs in a fine-dining setting.

The Alumni Gala Dinner was organised by Hospitality and Catering lecturer Mike Evans, who is retiring after 39 years teaching at the college. Most of the chefs involved trained under Mike, while others worked with him in his role as manager of the Welsh National Culinary team.

Chefs involved were:

Danny Burke - Proprietor of Olive Tree catering

Jack Davison - Development chef at Dylan’s Restaurant Group

Dave Kelman - Head chef at Estelle Manor, Oxfordshire

Sue Lacy - Head chef at Rydal School, Colwyn Bay

Harry Osborne - Head chef at The Quay Hotel, Deganwy

Harry Paynter-Roberts - Junior sous chef at Carden Park, Chester

Callum Smith - Pastry Chef at Shrewsbury School

Andrew Tabberner - Chef at Porth Eirias, Colwyn Bay

Bryn Williams - Proprietor of Porth Eirias and former proprietor of Odette’s in London

Each chef worked on a different dish, with Bryn cooking his famous ‘Turbot with Oxtail’ with which he won TV show The Great British Menu in 2006.

Also on the menu was a sunflower seed risotto with mushrooms and artichokes, lamb wellington main course and caraibe mocha mousse dessert.

Mike said: “The food was amazing - it exceeded all expectations. Each dish was just getting better and better as we went through.

“To put all those chefs in a kitchen, they were helping one another and it’s amazing that there were no egos. If one of them needed something, somebody else jumped on and gave them a hand. It ran like clockwork.”

Mike said the students in the kitchen gained confidence throughout the day as they worked with chefs at the top of their game.

“As the day went on they got more and more involved, they embraced it,” he said. “The front-of-house staff - which was probably 75% first-years - were incredible. You wouldn’t know they were just coming to the end of their first year, they were absolutely amazing.”

The chefs praised their time at college for propelling them on to successful careers.

Bryn Williams said: “Mike inspired me and many others over the years, so it was an honour to be involved in his farewell dinner. I’m very grateful for everything he taught me and I’m sure he will be sorely missed.”

Jack Davison, development chef at Dylan’s Restaurant Group, said: “Mike was a really big influence on me when I was at college. I did 18 months with Mike and throughout my career I did the Wales junior team with him. He’s always been a constant in my career to go back to for advice.”

He added: “I learned the fundamentals of cooking here. It’s a really good catering college, they’re always on top of things, always doing events, and it’s always been good at getting people out into the industry. We’re always taking people on from the college.”

Harry Osborne, head chef at The Quay hotel in Deganwy, said: “I did my Level 1 NVQ catering here. Mike was a really good lecturer and I enjoyed being here. I learned about cooking but also cleanliness, time-keeping - it’s a great place to start before you go into the real world.”

During the dinner there was a raffle and secret auction, raising £1,180 for Beat SCAD, a charity which supports people affected by Spontaneous Coronary Artery Dissection.

The food for the evening was donated by the chefs, while raffle and auction prizes were donated by sponsors Porth Eirias, The White Horse Hendrerwydd, Château Rhianfa Anglesey, Quay Hotel Deganwy, Carden Park, the Pen y Bryn Colwyn Bay, Bodnant Food Centre, Grate Cheese Deli, Heartland Coffee Roasters, Dylan’s, Wild Horse Brewery and Great Orme Brewery.

Also sponsoring the evening were Channel Fisheries, Tanners Wine Merchants, Penderyn and Castell Howell.

Do you want to work in the hospitality industry? Grŵp Llandrillo Menai’s Hospitality & Catering programme area is the only one in Wales to offer full and part-time courses from Level 1 to Bachelor Honours Degrees, as well as apprenticeships, NVQs and customised employee training. Click here to learn more about our courses.