Catering student wins the chance to work at a top Tyneside hotel

A trainee chef has landed the chance of a job at a top Tyneside hotel after wowing competition judges with her cooking.

Catherine Smith, 28, Newcastle was one of a number of Gateshead College students who took part in the contest held in conjunction with the Ramada Encore Newcastle-Gateshead, at Hawks Road, Gateshead Quays.

Now, after impressing the judges with her menu, which was inspired by native North East produce, Catherine is looking forward to a two-week work placement at the 200-bedroom hotel, with an interview for a possible permanent position.

Students from the college’s hospitality department were initially asked to produce a three-course dinner menu in line with the hotel’s policy of using locally-sourced and seasonal ingredients.

As well as being tasked with creating an appetising and innovative menu, the contestants also had to ensure it met the costing criteria which would enable it to retail at a set price of £24.95.

Then, to win the competition and clinch the top prize, the finalists took part in a cook-off with Catherine, who is studying Level 2 in Professional Cookery at the college, producing a menu of broccoli and Northumbrian nettle cheese soup, followed by smoked salmon, with dill and lemon farfalle and a dessert of profiteroles with crème patissière and a trio of dipping sauces.  

Along with her work placement and the chance to gain a permanent job at the Ramada Encore hotel, Catherine was presented with a trophy and will see her name on the hotel’s menu.

"We were unanimously impressed, not only with Catherine’s imaginative and well executed menu, but with her professional and capable approach to the task,” said Ramada Encore general manager Deb Peart, who was also part of the judging panel. 

“She has shown she can create a delicious and inventive menu within a budget and under pressure and we very much look forward to welcoming her on her work placement.”

Joanne Rogan, chef lecturer at Gateshead College, said: “We are extremely proud of Catherine and how well she has done in this competition to secure such a prestigious work placement.

“At Gateshead College we always strive to create real world experiences for our students to give them the best possible education and practical skills that they can transfer to the workplace.   

“In this competition all of the students did a great job of creating a menu and cooking the dishes. I’m sure they felt the pressure was on and that’s exactly how it can be in a working commercial kitchen.”