Hosting fine dining experience for school students

Published: 7th April 2022

Published by City College Southampton

Students from Cantell School experienced fine dining at two lunch events held in partnership with our Hospitality and Catering teaching team and students, supported by MasterChef winner Shelina Permalloo.

Last week, 250 Year 9 students from Cantell School were given this unique opportunity to experience formal dining, something many had not experienced before. It was also a fantastic real hands-on experience for our students.

The two-course lunch was prepared, cooked and served by our talented hospitality and catering students. The fine dining meal included a Thai vegetable tartlet served with crispy noodles and a lime, sweet chilli and coriander dressing, followed by chocolate orange choux buns filled with Chantilly cream. 

The hub was transformed into a dining area to cater for the large number of 13- and 14-year-old students who were seated on large circular tables away from their usual friends. Conversation starter questions were placed on tables which led to lots of polite chat between students and table etiquette cards were also displayed which were referred to throughout the meal.

Shelina Permalloo, MasterChef winner, author and Southampton restauranteur, talked with students at each table throughout the event. She said: "This is an excellent initiative led by Cantell School to educate young people on dining etiquette and to develop their skills so they can engage in natural conversation; breaking down the barriers no matter their background or status. 

"It was a pleasure to talk to the kids and to be involved in their formal dining experience, which was a first for so many."

Cantell School students were impressed with the event. Antonio said: "I’ve never had a formal meal with friends before; this was a really nice experience."  Victor added: "I really enjoyed today. The food was very good and it was great that the College students were able to serve a meal that met my dietary requirements."

City College hospitality students also gained valuable work experience from the event.  Kirsten, Level 2 Hospitality student, said: "This was an amazing experience and only the second time I’ve served at such a large-scale event. It certainly relied on strong communication and team work but I think it went really well."

Luke Wilson, Head of Co-curricular Activities at Cantell School, said: "Our Fine Dining Experience is designed to enable 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 enrichment experiences that Cantell School offers to broaden the horizons of all our students.

"It’s great to have returned to City College again this year, having missed a couple of years due to the pandemic, and it was wonderful to see one of our former Cantell students now at City College studying hospitality serving our students and working in the kitchen.

"Huge thanks to Shelina, the College’s hospitality team and of course their fantastic students who have worked extremely hard to provide this exceptional experience for our students."