Turning up the Heat as Student Reaches Regional Finals of Prestigious Awards

A YOUNG chef is assembling the ingredients for a successful career in catering after securing a place in the regional finals of a prestigious competition.

Darlington College Level 3 student-turned-tutor Tom Wood will compete on July 1, in Sheffield, in the Northern semi-finals of the Craft Guild of Chefs Graduate Awards 2021.

In a high pressure day, the gruelling event will see Tom, of Eggleston in Teesdale, compete in written and practical tests including theory of classical culinary techniques and recipes in both larder and patisserie disciplines.

There will also be 45 minute butchery and fishmongery skills tests followed by a Master Chef style mystery box in which he will have two hours to prepare a meal including a Korean-inspired Quorn appetiser or amuse bouche, cheese dish starter and a French apple tart.

“It is a lot to think about for one day,” said Tom, who has just secured his teaching certificate and now teaches at college, as well as working as a chef at the Fox Hall Inn on the A66 near Barnard Castle.

“I’m getting in plenty of practice and it is great to be part of something so prestigious.”

Tom is also about to start an FdA in Hospitality & Tourism Management in September and is hoping to increase the amount of teaching he does at the college.

“I feel I have learnt so much over the years and now want to pass on this knowledge and help share the brilliant experiences I have had through Darlington College,” said Tom who, when he was 17, travelled to New York to challenge Cannoli King Buddy Valastro in a bake-off.

Darlington College catering lecturer Dawn Cobb-Neate said: “It is an amazing achievement for Tom to get this far and he will be under a lot of pressure on the day.

“He has such a great work ethic. While studying for his NVQ Level 3 Diploma in Professional Cookery (Larder), Tom also completed his Cert Ed, worked part time as a member of staff supporting catering students, taught one of the Level 1 groups, taught sessions with the Level 2 apprentices and also managed to fit in a part-time job at the Fox Hall Inn to keep his kitchen skills and industrial experience current. He really does deserve every success.”

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