Months of hard work come to fruition on Monday 3rd December when the Highlands’ Academy Restaurant is relaunched with brand new kitchens.
At the launch, students, lecturers, contractors, employers and industry experts will have guided tours of the new facilities. Student chefs will be in action preparing a selection of sweet and savoury dishes while the guests look on. Deputy Patrick Ryan, Education, Sport and Culture Minister, will officially open the new kitchens at 5pm.
Deputy Ryan said: “The Academy Restaurant is one of the jewels of Highlands’ crown and has an impressive track record that has included some exciting innovations in the past few years. The excellent new facilities will enable the Academy to go from strength to strength, all to the benefit of our students and the hospitality sector.”
The refurbishment work started in June 2012 as students were finishing college for the summer break. The project was run by Highlands’ facilities manager, David Grimes. One of the innovations included in the transformation was the installation of ceiling cameras in two of the kitchens so that live footage can be streamed to screens in the kitchen and the restaurant. This means students can see demonstrations clearly and diners can watch their food being prepared.
A breakout area equipped with 13 computers has been created so that students can complete project work in the restaurant/kitchen area. Other work included lowering ceilings, new wall tiles, state-of-the-art gas equipment and electrical appliances. Opportunities were also taken to include technology to upgrade the work of the kitchens and the experience of the students.
Culinary Arts Curriculum Manager Eileen Buicke-Kelly said: “The aim was to enhance the students’ experience and training and the young chefs who use these kitchens have all commented on how proud they are to work in such high quality surroundings. This refurbishment has created kitchens of a standard that will enable Highlands to deliver the highest quality training possible.”
The Academy of Culinary Arts was awarded an Outstanding grade in March 2011 by external reviewers who cited ‘very high success rates and attendance on all courses, excellent student / teacher relationships, employability and enrichment strategies which enhance the learning experience and inspirational curriculum leadership’.
There are currently 113 students enrolled on full-time or day release courses and they are already using the new facilities. The Academy of Culinary Arts provides a wide variety of hospitality courses ranging from Budding Chefs (for young students aged 11-16) right up to a new Level 4 course in Tourism and Hospitality Management. This year the team is running its highest ever number of hospitality courses.