February 2022

University’s ‘Gold’ accreditation provides post-Covid boost for food and hospitality training

By Darren Campbell and Melanie Hall

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University College Birmingham has received the highest standard of approval from a leading industry body in recognition of its specialist training for the food and hospitality sectors seeking to bounce back from the coronavirus pandemic. 

The University has been awarded Gold Accreditation for the next two years by People 1st International, which recognises institutions delivering excellent full-time or classroom-based hospitality training and qualifications. 

The latest accreditation sees University College Birmingham cement its Centre of Excellence status, covering the areas of food and beverage service, patisserie and confectionery and fish and shellfish. 

This has been combined with an AA 'Highly Commended' College Restaurant Rosette awarded to the University's Restaurant at Birmingham College of Food following an expert inspection of its quality of food and service – the first such inspection since the restaurant reopened its doors after the Covid-19 lockdown. 

"Working in the training restaurant is a lot of pressure, but that's the point... It's the greatest rush of adrenalin and that makes you better"

Buffy Hull Professional Cookery Level 3

The recognition opens up a wealth of additional opportunities and connections for students and staff at the University's Birmingham College of Food – including access to more competitions, industry conferences and experts – thereby supporting the development of the next generation to provide a much-needed boost for the industry in the wake of the pandemic. 

Among those aspiring to join the food and hospitality sectors are Professional Cookery Level 3 students Elizabeth 'Buffy' Hull and Saffron Balu, for whom working in the University's award-winning restaurant forms a key component of their course. 

Buffy, who was recommended to enrol at the Birmingham College of Food after moving to the Midlands from the south-west, explained the value of such practical opportunities for her development. 

"Coming here to study was 100% the best decision I ever made," she said.

"I came to an open evening and was wowed by the facilities. Chef Oliver took us round the restaurant and kitchens, and there was no other option for me. 

Our award-winning restaurant provides an ideal environment for students to develop their practical culinary skills

"Working in the training restaurant is a lot of pressure, but that's the point," she added. "It's the greatest rush of adrenalin and that makes you better. 

"There might be 60 people in the restaurant, you're in full swing and it's fast-paced. Even if you make mistakes, the lecturers are there to guide you and help you out." 

Fellow student Saffron said she was won over by her course because of the facilities and the opportunity to work in the training restaurant. 

"It's very different, the way you are taught," she said. "You are working to a high standard and under timed pressure for real customers. 

"We did a front of house event for a few customers last year and they really enjoyed the fact students were serving them. It was really rewarding and it's amazing when people compliment you – it spurs you on." 

In pictures: Restaurant at Birmingham College of Food

The accreditation from People 1st is the result of a rigorous assessment process which saw the University evaluated in a broad range of areas, from kitchen and bakery facilities to provenance and links with suppliers, student enrichment and placements. 

Staff from across the Birmingham College of Food provided input in their fields of expertise while assessors also gathered feedback from current students and representatives of industry partners. 

Kali Davidson, Head of the Birmingham College of Food, said: "To receive the gold standard in food and beverage service, patisserie and confectionery and fish and shellfish is a massive achievement for the staff and students at University College Birmingham. 

"We are all so proud of this success and to top this, we were also given the ‘Highly Commended’ college rosette, which is awarded for quality and consistent standards of hospitality, service and cuisine. 

"All staff and students have worked tremendously hard behind the scenes, and that hard work has paid off." 

University College Birmingham is renowned for providing specialist vocational training for students looking to enter the culinary industry, with world-class facilities and expert tuition provided on a range of college, undergraduate and postgraduate courses as well as apprenticeships. 

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

Find out more about our award-winning restaurant by visiting the Restaurant at Birmingham College of Food website. 

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