Dining at Oaklands College restaurant The Stables had a new face at the pass last week, as the student team of young chefs were led in service by former student and top local chef Harry Lumsdon.
The campus regular Thursday night dining sessions which are open to the public hosted a special collaboration night with the former Hospitality Catering student, who has taken the title of Young Master Chef of the Year 2016 and worked in a string of St Albans Restaurants since leaving College in 2013.
Harry created a menu specifically for the occasion to wow diners and also put the student’s skills to the test by using a number of culinary disciplines. He spent two days on campus at the industry-standard kitchens at St Albans Campus to get acquainted with the team and teach them the tips and techniques they would need for the three-course menu.
Although Harry completed his training with Oaklands at the former Alban Park Campus, he was thrilled to see the facilities in The Stables, home to daily lunchtime service and regular evening themed services lead by Head Chef Martin West.
He said: “I consider the tutors here professional contacts and also friends. Whenever I need a recipe, a hand, or just a word of advice they are my go-to guys. They gave that extra support to really get the best out of me when I was just starting out. They appreciated the skills and experience I was getting inside the industry and always pushed me to do better.”
Despite now only being age 23, Harry has amassed eight years working in the industry, and taken home the National Young Chef of the Year Competition from Great British Chefs in 2016.
Having racked up experience at fine dining venues St Michael’s Manor and Auberge Du Lac, Harry also stepped into his first Head Chef role at The Great Northern in St Albans, where the restaurant picked up an AA recommendation and an award for ‘Best Everyday Dining’ at the most recent St Albans Food & Drink Awards. Currently working at St Albans Dylan’s restaurant, Harry will soon re-locate to Essex to explore his next venture.
He devised all the feature dishes on the special menu, which included Smoked Chicken Raviolio, Chicken Cracking and Tarragon Jus, Gressingham Duck Breast served with Spinach Tortellini, Confit Leg Croustillant and Brambles, and Mango and Passion Fruit Entremets with Mango Sorbet.
The students - all studying various levels of course - were tasked with food preparation, kitchen delivery and front of house service on the night to ensure a smooth service and high standard of food heading out the packed restaurant.
Harry added: “An evening service like this a great opportunity to put the skills from your College course into practise. I see my younger self in a few of the team here tonight - it should be the spark that now drives them to get out into industry to put these skills to the test.
“For life as a chef you need drive and tenacity – the hours are long and you have to keep pushing yourself. It’s been a pleasure to work with the students and work with my tutors once again.”
Dining at The Stables is fully booked for the remainder of this academic year, but kicks off again this September. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for a release for 2019-2020 dates when available later this year.