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Hospitality stars praise Harrogate College for helping them launch their careers – FE News

Two local restaurant industry leaders have praised Harrogate College for helping them launch their careers.

Chef Callum Bowmer and restaurant and hotel general manager Neil Mendoza have both achieved great things since their college training.

Neil Mendoza, who took management and hospitality courses from 2008 to 2010, went on to hold several management positions in the restaurants of celebrity chef Marcus Wareing, including MARCUS at the Berkeley Hotel in London.

Neil is now back in Harrogate where he is General Manager of the Studley Hotel and Orchid Restaurant.

Callum, meanwhile, who was named Chef of the Year at the 2022 Harrogate Hospitality and Tourism Awards, did an apprenticeship at college in 2011. He is now chef at the 3AA restaurant Rosette Horto, in Rudding Park.

Both agree that their time at university provided them with a crucial and rewarding path to industry.

A fantastic experience with great tutors

Neil said: “It was a fantastic experience as it taught me more about the industry and led me to exactly where I am today.

“I was already working part-time in a restaurant where my father was a chef. The course gave me a better understanding of the industry and helped me decide that this is the career I would like to pursue.

Callum said, “My time at college was fun, progressive, and purposeful. I had two excellent tutors, Mark Wilkinson, who is no longer at university, and Karina Dodsworth.

“I believe I showed passion and respect so they invested their time in me. I did a day out and had a session with Mark where we covered all the skills we we needed, from the butcher’s shop to the pastry shop.

“I even remember going to London with a small team to demonstrate sushi at the Excel Arena, during a WorldSkills competition, which was fantastic. A sushi chef had come to train us months before and gave us the skills we needed.

The college host team has worked hard over the past year to build support for local businesses. These efforts have included reaching out through the Harrogate College Employers Network to find out exactly what skills companies need.

They were also delighted to welcome Neil earlier this year when he came to the university to give an inspirational talk to students.

Targeted aid for local industry

The hospitality sector has been one of the hardest hit by the pandemic, as repeated closures have shaken consumer confidence and led to the loss of many skilled employees.

Jason Parry, Head of Cultural, Contemporary and Heritage Studies at Harrogate College, said: “The fantastic success of former students like Callum and Neil is an inspiration to us all and shows what can be achieved. We are delighted to have contributed to this success.

“We have worked closely with many local hospitality businesses over the past year as part of our efforts to help the district recover from Covid-19.

“That work involved talking directly to employers about what they need from new hires, and then customizing our training to make sure it works.

“Our theme nights were also part of this and gave our students invaluable experience of working in a fast-paced restaurant. We’ve also taken them on study trips, to places like Rudding Park, to show them best practices and help them understand how businesses work.

“It’s about making sure they leave here with a skill set that will prove invaluable to our local hotels, restaurants, cafes and bars – and so enable them to thrive in the industry.”

The value of learning, hard work and patience

Neil and Callum, meanwhile, are happy to share some tips with aspiring hospitality professionals. Callum said: “You have to be happy in your job, so for me being a chef is great because that’s what I love to do.

“I would definitely recommend considering an apprenticeship as you will learn so much more with the combination of a good workplace and a great university course. Also, question everything and if you don’t know something, ask – there are no dumb questions.

“It is also essential to demonstrate an excellent work ethic; be on time, be impatient, be passionate, be motivated, be clean and work hard. Good luck!”

Neil added: “I love every moment of my current role, particularly as I am also back in Harrogate after living and working in London for a decade to elevate my career.

“To all young chefs, servers and other aspiring hospitality professionals, I would say: focus on the positive and learn from your mistakes, as this will define who you are in the industry and make you better.

“It might be a long journey to where you want to be, but patience is key and hard work will get you there.”

Click here for more details on the college’s hospitality and catering courses. In the meantime, you can find more information about apprenticeships here.

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