April 2024

Bumper roundup: Birmingham College of Food sees in spring with more success stories

By Melanie Hall and Carrie Mok

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Spring has sprung and as the daffs raise their heads, we raise a toast to our college of food, which has been super busy in the past few months. 

Since our last roundup, the college of food has excelled in competitions, scooped an award for its apprenticeships and held sparkling events for everyone from women in business to a Welsh placement provider. And chef Aktar Islam, owner of Birmingham's Opheem restaurant, had some fab things to say about our students when he won his second Michelin Star (watch the video). 

Here’s our roundup of what our college of food has been up to:

National England Junior Team 2024

Culinary Olympics: Bringing home double bronze medals

Winning a place on the podium of one of the biggest and toughest competitions in the culinary world is no mean feat. Which is why we were thrilled to hear the National England Junior Team - made up mainly of our own college of food students and alumni - had brought home double bronze medals from Stuttgart, Germany.

Skippered by our chef lecturers Mathew Shropshall and Richard Taylor, the six-strong team practised and trained in the university kitchens for over a year to go up against chefs from 20 countries. Take a look at their incredible menu - all themed around nature.

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Zest Quest Asia 2024 runners up

Zest Quest Asia runners up and sustainability champs

The 'cost of living crisis' is not just a British concept, but a global one, providing three final year Culinary Arts Management undergraduates with a theme for their team entry into a national Asian cooking competition that would resonate with judges. 

Oliver Herrington, Mikayla Johnson and Matteo Salvato not only came overall second in Zest Quest Asia 2024, winning an incredible educational trip to France, but were hailed champions of sustainability for producing practically zero waste. And they became friends for life.

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Alumni Adam makes Great British Menu final

Alumni Adam makes BBC2 Great British Menu final  

College of food graduate Adam Smith did us proud when he made it through to the final of this year's BBC2 Great British Menu.

Adam won the competition's Central region final after stunning judges Ed Gamble, Tom Kerridge and Nisha Katona with his Cornish brill with trout and truffle mousse dish, The Road to Paris.

Birmingham born Adam, who started out as a pub potwasher, won the Roux Scholarship in 2012 and today, is Executive Chef at Coworth Park, where the Aston Villa fan runs the Michelin-starred restaurant Woven by Adam Smith. What a success story.

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National apprenticeships award winners

National apprenticeships award

Apprenticeships have always been one of the college of food's superpowers and we are now officially the UK's top hospitality and catering apprenticeships provider.

We won Hospitality and Catering Provider of the Year at the AAC Apprenticeship Awards 2024, with judges recognising that our culinary and hospitality apprenticeships worked in tandem with industry alongside close partnerships with stakeholders to ensure all training is current and relevant to sector.

With 70 culinary apprentices training with the institution throughout the Midlands, judges also acknowledged our outstanding facilities, personal development, including competitions, and quality of placements, for example, working with six out of the seven Michelin-starred restaurants in the region.

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Aktar wins second Michelin Star - and praises college of food

Celebrated chef Aktar Islam recently made history by winning his second Michelin star for his restaurant, Opheem, which is right on our doorstep in Birmingham.

Aktar, who takes on loads of our student chefs, had lots of good things to say about the college of food and shared with us his words of wisdom for those who want to go into the food industry.

Lucy laps up Dawn Foods ambassador role

Lucy wins student ambassador role

Bakery and patisserie undergraduate Lucy Liszewski is exploring Japanese and Korean influences in her new role as 2024 Student Ambassador for a global bakery supplier.  

The final year student, who has gone all the way from a Level 2 college course to degree level with us, was chosen to work with Dawn Foods as part of an ongoing partnership with the University to support young people entering the bakery industry.

The 22-year-old is now working with Dawn Foods’ Application Chef, Robin Loud, to create new recipes and blogs and insights for the company’s website, trade press and social media platforms.

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International Women's Day at our restaurant

International Women's Day celebration

International Women’s Day was celebrated at our AA Highly Commended restaurant, where guests had the chance to discuss shared experiences on themed tables of leadership, STEM, sport, business, education, technology, health and hospitality, all while enjoying an exceptional menu curated by Professor Kali Davidson, Head of Further Education at the college of food. 

Guests at the event included Denise Morris, TAG Network Midlands founder, Rosie Ginday, CEO of Miss Macaroon (and one of our alumna) and Professor Paul Cadman, Chair of Steps to Work and the University’s Strategic Employer Advisory Board.

After lunch, guests were able to join a campus tour to see our facilities alongside the Summer Row campus.

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Celebrating Celtic Manor placement students

Celtic Manor visit to celebrate placement alumni

We’re super proud of our students and alumni, and our industry employer partners around the globe are crucial in preparing learners with real skills that exemplify the high quality training provided by University College Birmingham and our partners. 

With a fourth cohort of Culinary Arts Management students starting a 12-month placement at the Celtic Manor Resort this year, we held a celebration of those who completed the previous year. And the menu was cooked up and created by current placement students and chefs from Celtic Manor, paying special attention to Welsh produce.

University College Birmingham is a leading provider of specialist training for the food and hospitality industries, with students learning in our award-winning training restaurant and industry-standard kitchen facilities, as well as having a wealth of opportunities to put their skills to the test in prestigious national and international competitions.

Discover our full range of courses within our Birmingham College of Food.  

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