Top chef David Kennedy serves-up a tasty session for apprentices at Gateshead College

An acclaimed North East chef created a stir by serving-up a taster session for young chefs set on carving out a career in the industry as part of National Apprenticeship Week (February 6 - 10).

David Kennedy, owner and head chef at Food Social and former North East Chef of the Year, dropped in to Gateshead College on Tuesday (Feb 7)  to run a cooking masterclass for six first year professional cookery apprentices.

The apprentices, who all work in restaurants, hotels and cafes  across the region, took part in the session to  to broaden their experience and understanding of the skills and techniques required to succeed as a top chef.

David and the students spent a full morning creating a meal of roast Northumberland lamb with fondant potatoes. In the industry standard training kitchens at the college's Baltic Campus, he took the apprentices through each step of the preparation and cooking with demonstrations before they completed each task themselves.

Emma Falcus, 19, from Whickham is a full-time apprentice at the Marriott Hotel, Gateshead, and trains at the college one day per week to complete a Level 2 NVQ in Professional Cookery.

She said: "I chose to do an apprenticeship because I really want a career as a chef and learning in a professional kitchen whilst also studying towards a qualification will give me the best possible practical training.

Fellow apprentice Marc Kouablan, 25, from Newcastle, who works at catering company Love Food said: "The masterclass with David Kennedy was fantastic. It was great to learn from someone who has been successful in setting up their own restaurant and to see a different style of cooking."

In preparing the meal, the apprentices learnt the importance of sourcing good, local ingredients, different butchering techniques and preparation skills and how to give a modern twist to classic dishes.

David, who is well-known following the success of his Black Door restaurant chain, is now enjoying success with his Food Social at the Biscuit Factory, and the recently opened River Cafe in North Shields. He understands the importance of professionals supporting apprentices as he began his career as an apprentice at Exeter College.

David said: "It was great to be spend time with the apprentices and to share some of the skills and techniques I use in my kitchens every day.

"It's so important that apprentices get the chance to understand the latest thinking and to try different cooking techniques as part of their learning. There are so many different styles of cuisine out there and the industry is changing all the time, so sessions like this are vital to ensure apprentices leave their training with a well-rounded approach.

"As a former apprentice myself, I believe in this style of training - the hands on, practical way of learning is  fantastic for any budding chef to hone their skills and the enthusiasm they bring into the kitchen often makes them an invaluable addition to any team."