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Firstly, I would like to thank all our customers for supporting The School of Hospitality and Management at Kendal College. This year, perhaps more than any other has been one of the most important for The Restaurant in recent years.

Four key ingredients have contributed to the success of The Restaurant this year – the students, the customers, the food and the staff. Our students have once again performed beyond all expectations, and I would like to take this opportunity to celebrate students both past and present in their endeavour to be the best they can be every single service. We continue to be visited by many Colleges in the country who want to see what we do, and the name and reputation of the department continue to grow and hold true to the core values of excellence.

Our students are the greatest ambassadors for our craft we have. Perhaps the highlight of the year involved the Alumni Dinner, an event arranged by ex-students to raise money for the Culinary Team. Martin Frickle, Matt Campbell, Scott Fairweather, Ryan Blackburn, Will Dickinson, Michael Southcott, Andrew Postlethwaite, and Arthur Bridgman Quinn became the teachers for the night, educating both the staff, students and customers and raising £10,315 so the students could visit Spain on this year’s culinary tour. The evening was the very best of the department and highlighted the life-changing experience attending the college can have on our chefs.

There has been even more success, as two of our students have reached the final of the ‘National Seafood Chef of the Year’ competition, Albert Hindson and Harvey Smith. Our students are also in the final of the ‘UK Young Restaurant of the Year’ competition, with Laura Holliday, Albert Hindson and Alessandro Perfetto. These finals are taking place in July, so keep a lookout on our social media for the results!

Our association with Cumbria Life Food and Drinks Award has once again proved a fantastic success. In the seven years of partnership, we have cooked for a total of 1280 people and this year the guest speaker Jay Rayner wrote in The Guardian newspaper “Kendal College, home to one of the most influential cooking courses in the country.” Along with Prue Leith, Matthew Fort, Dave Mayers, Helen Skelton and Stuart Maconie have all experience our accomplished brand of hospitality. I would like to take this opportunity to thank Richard Eccles, his super team, and the Cumbria Life Magazine for their continued faith in our abilities to cook for Cumbria’s incredible food community.

We believe our style of food is current, modern and relevant, enabling our students to use all the new techniques and technologies to enhance the flavours of our ingredients. Provenance plays an integral part in our excellent delivery, and we source from Cumbria, Morecambe Bay and North Lancashire, giving our students and customers a broad range of quality ingredients to enjoy. The students are progressively allowed to influence the menus as they go through each stage of their training, preparing them to develop their style and culinary identity in the future.

I cannot complete this year without recognising three very different people and their journeys through the College. Graham Wilkinson, the iconic Principal of Kendal College for 18 years, has formally retired and passed the baton to Kelvin Nash, who by a twist of fate, is the same age as Graham was when he started. Graham Wilkinson had the personal determination to establish the Hospitality Department as a leading light in the community, and we all owe him a massive debt of gratitude. His vision has changed many lives. We wish him all the best in his retirement and would request he comes back for Christmas as we have him on ‘peeling Brussel sprout’ duty!

Simon Hansen has worked as a full-time lecturer at the College for 14 years and is going to be following his dream by setting up Hansen’s Ice Cream Parlour. He will be moving onto a part-time role at the College to give himself the opportunity to develop his own business. As our ethos is about personal development, we are delighted Simon has taken the chance to run his own business and please support him where you can.

Finally, and perhaps the most difficult of farewells is to one of our most inspirational alumni chefs, Matt Campbell. The country will know him best through MasterChef, where he made a significant impact on the judges during his time on the show – most notably when Marcus Wareing called one of his creations “the best signature dish I have ever eaten on MasterChef”. It was clear then that Matt had matured into something special. Richard Axford, Yannick Lequitte & Graeme Hedley had the pleasure of teaching him, and I had the privilege to meet him when he came back into College. He was articulate, visionary and dynamic. Matt left a significant and lasting impression on both our staff and students. I would like to thank him and his family for spending time with us and inspiring us to continue with what is important in life, which is to live life to the full, to learn from life and to cook with passion.