Award-winning chocolatier stirs up enthusiasm with catering students

Published: 7th February 2017

Published by City College Southampton

On 6th February, award-winning chocolatier and pastry chef, and former City College catering student, Mark Tilling, inspired our current students with a demonstration of his high quality chocolate work.

The 2016 winner of BBC Two's Bake Off Crème de la Crème, 2006 and 2008 UK Chocolate Master returned to the College to give our students a chocolate flower demonstration and an insight into his many years of success in the industry.

Mark began his career in the catering industry after successfully completing the BTEC National Diploma in Hotel and Catering and Level 3 Pastry at City College Southampton back in 1997.

Mark Tilling

He has worked in many hotels and restaurants throughout his career, including The Lanesborough in London, Lainston House Hotel in Winchester, Hotel du Vin Group in Winchester and Bristol, and the Pave D’Auge in Normandy, France. He has also had the pleasure to cook for several well-known figures including former President George Bush Senior, Cher, Tom Cruise, Nicole Kidman and HRH Prince Edward, The Earl of Wessex.

Mark explained: "I have always had a passion for food, especially pastries, and knew from a young age that I wanted to have a career making sweet things.

"I had a great experience studying at City College, gaining valuable knowledge and the technical skills to become a pastry chef, and went straight from college into work where I have gained a wealth of experience working in many hotels and restaurants."


Mark has been successful in many chocolate and patisserie competitions and, in 2009, he was ranked as seventh in the world for his master of chocolate work. He continued: "Chocolate is a great medium to work with and I think it’s important to share my knowledge and to inspire others for the future."

 Mark Tilling chocolate demo

Mark gave the students a step-by-step demonstration of how to create a chocolate flower showpiece, and encouraged a few to try their hand at some of the intricate work of making and bonding the delicate petals.

Paula Lock, Learning Manager for Hospitality and Catering, said: "It’s been a pleasure to have Mark, a former City College student, to come back and show our level 2 and level 3 students how to create a showpiece out of chocolate and to give them an insight into working as a professional pastry chef. Mark has excelled in his career and listening to him today has certainly inspired our students to think about the career options open to them in the catering profession."

Mark Tilling chocolate demo 2