On Thursday 16th February, Eastleigh College played host to a seven course Hampshire inspired taster menu. The meal was created and served by aspiring young chefs from the college working in collaboration with the Exclusive Chefs Academy and chef Andy Mackenzie from Lainston House Hotel.
Working closely with local food group Hampshire Fare, the students sourced all their ingredients locally to put together a feast to make the county proud. Each course was paired with a locally made drink. Local ingredients and drinks featured on the menu included Kings Somborne eggs, Chalk Stream Trout, Twisted Nose Gin, New Forest Mushrooms, Meon Valley Cider, pork from LJ Smith Butchers, seasonal vegetables from Sunnyfields Farm, Hill Farm Juice, MASH beer, Chalkdown Cider, Lyburn Cheese, Danebury Wine, honey from Mrs B’s Bees, Wessex Wild Plum liqueur, Tunworth, Mozzo Coffee and chocolate from The Hampshire Confectioner.
Greg Cheeseman, Chef Lecturer at Eastleigh College, commented on the collaboration: “We have been very excited to be working in partnership with the Exclusive Chefs’ Academy and Hampshire Fare for this event. One of our aims as a department is to give our students a wide range of culinary experiences. This event allows them to work with some talented young chefs, to produce top quality dishes. It is also a fantastic opportunity for them to have their eyes opened to some of the amazing ingredients which are available from local suppliers. Having support from Industry professionals like Andrew McKenzie, and Hampshire Fare allows us to enrich the learning experience of our students, and hopefully produce chefs of the future.”
Weeks of work and planning has gone into meal with the students even distilling their own gin for the occasion at Winchester Distillery. Megan Whittall is a level 3 professional cookery student explained what an inspiring process it has been: “We worked with the chefs from Exclusive Chefs’ Academy last week to practice the dishes. It is good to work with chefs who have been to college like us, and are now working in top places, while studying at the academy. It shows some of the opportunities available after college. I really enjoyed cooking with ingredients I hadn’t tried before, and learning new ways of using ingredients I was familiar with.”
The meal was attended by forty diners who included some of the local producers and Tracy Nash, Commercial Manager from Hampshire Fare who was clearly impressed:
“The standard of the food this evening has been outstanding. I have been taken aback by the talent and passion in the room. I am excited about what this means for the future, I think we can expect to see a lot of new culinary talent working its way up the ranks in Hampshire. Well done to everyone involved and thank you to our producers for showing their support for the young chefs.”