Cantell School students experience fine dining

Published: 10th March 2020

Published by City College Southampton

Our hospitality and catering students put on two fine dining events to cater for all of Cantell School’s Year 8 students. The event aimed to provide the school students with a unique group experience of formal dining - something many had not experienced before. Enriching activities like this, which broaden the horizons of all their students, are a key part of the learning strategy at Cantell School.  

The two-course meal was prepared, cooked and served by our first and second year hospitality and catering students. They transformed the College’s hub into a dining area to cater for the large number of 12- and 13-year-olds. Several students commented that they had not experienced many meals without their phones or with people of their own age.

Conversation starter questions were given to each table which led to lots of polite chat between students who were seated on large circular tables away from their usual friends. Etiquette cards were also provided which students read carefully and referred to throughout the meal. One of the tables delighted members of staff when they all waited for the teacher to return to their table and sit down before they started on their dessert.

Cantell School student, Abdoulaye, 13, was impressed at how the tables were laid up like a “proper restaurant” and how the “meal and service was really good.” Lucy, 13, also loved the food and explained how she “really enjoyed eating around a big table together. It was a nice experience!”

Luke Wilson, Head of Co-Curricular Activities at Cantell School, said: “The Fine Dining Experience is designed to allow our students to develop an understanding of good table etiquette and the knowledge of what to do at a formal dinner setting. Students are sat in random groups, with guidance questions as prompts for good conversation to allow students to develop important social skills which we believe are so important. This is just one of the many different exceptional experiences that Cantell School offers. It is great to have returned to City College again this year, thank you to Simon and his team and of course the college students who have worked very hard to provide this exceptional experience for our students!”

The event also benefited our hospitality students as they had to plan and design the two-course menu, providing a range of textures and tastes which would meet, or be easily adapted to meet, everyone’s dietary requirements, and all within a set budget. They also gained further hands-on experience from setting up the event, laying the tables, preparing and cooking the food, in addition to serving the meals to over two hundred young people.

One of the trainee chefs, Owen Barker, said: “It’s been very fast-paced and pressurised in the kitchen to turn around so many covers in such a short timeframe, but the teamwork has been excellent and our training and hard work has really paid off.”  Level 2 Hospitality student Lauren Dunkason, Head of Front of House for the first day of the two events, commented: “This has really helped me understand how to best manage large events. It’s been an amazing experience!”

Some Cantell School students also had the opportunity to be shown around our professional training kitchens enabling them to see behind the scenes of the dining experience. The events also highlighted and promoted the wealth of career opportunities in the hospitality and catering sector.