Earlier this month, our Brand Ambassador and Michelin-starred chef James Sommerin welcomed top Welsh Chefs and catering students from Coleg Gwent into his impressive restaurant, situated on Penarth seafront. The Chefs’ Forum event was staged to showcase James’ culinary flair and skill that has acquired him three AA Rosettes, an impressive Good Food Guide ranking (32) and a Michelin Star!
Hybu Cig Cymru or Meat Promotion Wales also attended to celebrate Welsh Lamb as part of a week-long series of festivities to celebrate ‘Lamb Day’ on the 1st August. Douglas Willis were delighted to showcase our finest PGI Welsh lamb in fantastic butchery and cookery demonstrations to top chefs and catering students on the day.
Restaurant James Sommerin boasts nine luxury bedrooms making it a seriously fabulous destination to celebrate any special day or event. Its formal, yet relaxed atmosphere enables guests to enjoy the wow-factor of an intricate fine-dining experience, without being pretentious in any way. James’ hands-on approach is impressive in heading-up and brilliantly coordinating every element of the Michelin-starred dining experience: from Executive chef and Maitre d’ to table lay-up and reservations. ‘Chef Service’ is a USP of the restaurant with the brigade serving various elements of each dish. The visiting students were taught this approach, making and serving the canapés to the guests who arrived at midday.
The Chefs’ Forum were delighted to hold a second event at the Michelin-starred restaurant in Penarth, this time celebrating PGI Welsh Lamb, James’ appointment as ‘Brand Ambassador’ for Douglas Willis catering butchers and the launch of The Chefs’ Forum Academy this September at Coleg Gwent.
Catherine Farinha, event organiser and Founder of The Chefs’ Forum stated
“James’ versatile and personable, expert skill set made him the ideal mentor for the day in inspiring the young chefs who put themselves forward to help out with The Chefs’ Forum event on their day off. James has been appointed as Brand Ambassador for Douglas Willis butchers and as such makes an excellent host for this Welsh-lamb-centric event. The students gave an excellent impression of themselves and in representing their college. We are proud to work with James Sommerin and Coleg Gwent in advance of the launch of The Chefs’ Forum Academy at the college this September.”
“Manuel Monzon, James Sommerin and his daughter Georgia (20) also his Sous Chef will be joining thirty other Welsh chefs in delivering an enhanced programme of study to hospitality and catering students at Coleg Gwent, the fifth in a series of Chefs’ Forum Academies in colleges on a national level that see top chefs join forces to bridge the gap between education and industry and inspire the next generation of chefs through curriculum enrichment.”
The students from Coleg Gwent arrived on the day to help prepare canapés and set up the event for eighty culinary experts from across Wales who came to get a glimpse of James’ award-winning set-up and deliciously impeccable, well-thought-out food. They were joined by five food technology Food Teachers who took advantage of the summer holidays to get some CPD hours and update their skills in a Michelin-starred kitchen! It was a great opportunity for the teachers to keep their finger on the Industry pulse!
James was very impressed with the college students, he said
“The students tried really hard today and coped well with some complex tasks given to them. It was clear that they were inspired and that was great to see. I would be more than happy to consider work experience applications from students at Coleg Gwent and can’t wait for my daughter Georgia and I to teach them in the college as part of The Chefs’ Forum Academy scheme of learning. I have offered a trial to Daniel Lewis, Amy Hughes and Ryan Ranby who worked with me in the kitchen at the event today.”
Gary Handley, Director of Faculty at Coleg Gwent echoed James’ observations saying
“Today’s Chefs’ Forum event was an excellent opportunity for our students to experience working in a Michelin-starred kitchen and ‘chef service’ front of house environment. They thoroughly enjoyed preparing and serving canapés to some of Wales’’ best chefs. They were able to showcase their skills learned in college in a realistic environment and it was fantastic to see offers of stages and trial shifts being offered to students by industry guests who attended – The students will now be supported in following these up and we are massively looking forward to the launch of The Chefs’ Forum Academy at Coleg Gwent this September.”
Sean Willis of Douglas Willis butchers sponsors The Chefs’ Forum and supplies James with top quality Welsh meat served in his restaurant. As Brand Ambassador for Douglas Willis, James will now help out with recipe development and help showcase top quality Welsh lamb, beef, chicken and pork available through the family-run catering butchers. A good relationship between butcher and chef is crucial in maintaining Michelin-starred standards and consistency and it was lovely to see this perfect partnership in action as James and development chef Manuel Monzon embarked on a ‘Lamb-off’ in an entertaining, yet highly-skilled lamb butchery masterclass.
Other highlights of the day included a Michelin-starred cookery demonstration by James utilising the freshly-butchered pencil fillets of PGI Welsh lamb with coconut, Pak Choi and butternut squash. The guests were invited to come and try the dish once plated and were extremely impressed by the composition and flavour – A next-level flavour experience!
The Chefs’ Forum continues to hold quarterly events in Wales and is looking forward to the next event will be a stunning Chefs’ Lunch that will see Coleg Gwent students join peers at Cardiff & Vale College to cook a Chefs’ Lunch with four top chefs on the 21st October: Hywel Jones (Lucknam Park), Andrew Robertson (Cardiff Marriott), James Sommerin (Restaurant James Sommerin) and Ryan Mitchell (Chapel 1877) . Any chefs wishing to attend or get involved should contact their sales representative at Douglas Willis.