Reading College students cook up a storm with Raymond Blanc at Royal Ascot

6 July, 2021

Two students from Reading College created a recipe for success by taking part in work experience with chef Raymond Blanc OBE during Royal Ascot.

Cornish Crab Starter Afternoon tea Strawberry themed dessert

Holly and Emma, who both study Professional Culinary Arts, Level 3 Extended Diploma at the Kings Road campus, were hand-picked to work with Raymond Blanc, in his spectacular restaurant experience.

Two Michelin-star chef Raymond Blanc is the Culinary Consultant to Ascot Racecourse and has been working with them for over five years. His residency is in one of the most coveted restaurants at Royal Ascot – The Panoramic. He is also a contributor to the Ascot Service Academy.

This work experience was just one of the many placements that the professional culinary arts from Reading College took part in at Royal Ascot. Two other students worked with up-and-coming chef, Ollie Dabbous, in his kitchen. Others prepared food for hospitality boxes or did work experience in other restaurants throughout Royal Ascot.

Throughout the races, Holly and Emma worked in the Panoramic kitchens and helped to prepare Caesar salad appetisers, a Cornish crab starter, a Royal Estate cannon of lamb served with Provençal vegetables and a strawberry-themed dessert consisting of iced strawberry parfait, sorbet and marshmallow.

Emma said: “Working with Raymond Blanc was an absolute dream come true, I’ve always looked up to him, so it was amazing. His presence was so calming, and he was so passionate about getting Holly and I stuck into working with him and his team.

“During the service, I was part of plating and preparing a starter and the dessert, which was crab and fennel salad and a strawberry parfait ice cream.

“One of the main things I learnt in the kitchen is what the process of fine dining looks like from a kitchen point of view, but we were constantly being fed knowledge from chef which was really helpful.

“This event has opened my mind to more options, such as working within fine dining. My next step is to continue working at events with Raymond and his team, with the next event being The RHS Chelsea Flower Show!”

Raymond Blanc OBE said, “It was wonderful to have Emma and Holly with us during Royal Ascot and for them to truly experience what it is like to operate a kitchen at the highest level of gastronomy at the racecourse.

“All of my life, I have nurtured young talent for the industry, and I strongly believe that giving them the opportunity to use their skills in a hands-on setting will give them confidence and knowledge, but also an insight to understand what they are working towards.”

The work experience placements were organised by Simon Genduso, Professional Cookery Lecturer at Activate Learning and 1711 By Ascot, which is a partnership between Royal Ascot and hospitality company Sodexo, delivering outstanding hospitality, fine dining and on-site catering experiences.

Next year, the work experience placements will be even bigger and will consist of one week preparing and the second week, taking part in hospitality at Royal Ascot. Simon hopes that next year, the Reading College students will be joined by the professional culinary arts students from Activate Learning’s City of Oxford College.

Simon Genduso, Professional Cookery Lecturer at Activate Learning, said: “This is a fantastic start to their careers, and I’m really pleased for Holly and Emma. To work with and meet Raymond Blanc is very exciting and I hope that they both go on to have fantastic careers, along with all of my students.

“I also want to say a big thank you to 1711, for providing fantastic work experience placements for my students and for looking after them so well.

“We’re looking forward to working with them next year to expand the opportunities to students from City of Oxford College.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has been difficult for those working in the hospitality industry, but going forward, we’re hoping to do more.”

Discover our Hospitality and Professional Cookery programmes at Reading College or contact us on 0800 612 6008.

Group photo – First row, left to right: Emma, Holly, Emily, Simon Genduso, Professional Cookery Lecturer at Activate Learning. Second row, left to right: Raymond Blanc OBE, and unknown member of staff.