Culinary arts student serves top sport and TV stars on placement at Celtic Manor Resort
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A culinary arts student from University College Birmingham has revealed how she had the chance to serve a string of famous stars while on placement at a prestigious UK resort – with more students now being encouraged to follow in her footsteps.
Based in Newport, Celtic Manor hosts a multitude of high profile events – including serving as the venue for golf's famous Ryder Cup in 2010 – and has welcomed a number of UCB students on placement in recent years.
Last month saw leading representatives from the resort visit Summer Row to showcase the range of placement opportunities available to current hospitality and culinary arts students.
And third year student Hannah, who worked in the conference and banqueting kitchen at Celtic Manor during her 12-month placement, said the resort offered a great experience for any student at UCB – including the chance to rub shoulders with some celebrity guests.
"Celtic Manor put on some fantastic events throughout the year that were a great pleasure to be part of," said Hannah. "During my time on placement, I was lucky enough to cook, serve and meet some very famous people."
Among the famous faces Hannah met during her placement were sporting stars Gareth Bale, Mike Tindall, the Leicester City and England Ladies football teams, as well as TV's Bradley Walsh, Peter Jones, Gethin Jones and former Strictly Come Dancing professional James Jordan.
"We would serve numbers anywhere from 10 to 1,500," said Hannah. "One of the best parts was Christmas - over 5-6 weeks we served 14,000 Christmas turkey dinners which was a massive achievement as a team.
"Christmas Day was one of the highlights of my time there. I was lucky enough to be out front with the guests carving the meat to accompany the buffet, and it was very enjoyable.
"To this day I still keep in contact with lots of people at Celtic Manor and they have become friends for life. I wouldn't change a thing about my placement."
Speaking to current students at Summer Row last month, Celtic Manor's Executive Head Chef Michael Bates praised UCB's training, and encouraged more of the University's budding food and hospitality stars to follow in the footsteps of Hannah and others who have undertaken placements at the resort.
"We had three students who graduated from their placements this summer," said Michael. "They contributed really well and were a great asset to the team.
"They have come with a great foundation and skill set. You can tell they have been trained really well.
"It's a great opportunity to learn as well as make friendships," he added. "The benefits are huge if you want to take advantage of them."
Glenn Lewis, Food and Beverage Director at Celtic Manor, also addressed students during November's visit to UCB and praised the University's focus on providing placements for those seeking to enter the food and hospitality industry.
"That work placement is crucial," he said. "It's not until you go into the real world that you actually experience what the job is all about.
"It's a great balance to have your theory at university but then go out into the real world and experience putting all of that theory into practice.
"It's great for us to see students not only excel in their positions in the kitchen and how their skill set improves, but how they change within themselves and how they grow and develop."
UCB lecturer and Culinary Arts Management Year Manager Stuart Stringer said: "It is fantastic working with Celtic Manor, one of the most widely respected hotel resorts in the country.
"Giving the opportunity to our Culinary Art Management students to develop and further their knowledge is key in their professional development and practical skill set, at such a prestigious venue.
"We thank Michael, Glenn and the team at Celtic Manor Resort for all that they do in helping our students enhance the skills that they have gained here at UCB."
Celtic Manor Resort is just one of the countless industry partners with which UCB has developed close links over the years, providing a wealth of opportunities for students across the University to take on placements, gain invaluable work experience and boost work-ready skills.
Find out more about the range of courses and placements provided through our College of Food and Hospitality Management here. You can also follow the latest updates from the school on Twitter @ucbfoodcourses.