Aspiring Young Chefs Help Serve Up at a Treat at the Natural History Museum

On Wednesday 06 March, Mrs Wood, Director of Arts, and three students (Lucy Pearson, ** and **) travelled to London for a three day visit to assist in the Moving Venues kitchen at an event held at the Natural History Museum. The event, which was an exclusive reception for 50 specially invited guests, was hosted by the Lyme Regis Development Trust to raise awareness and funds for the Jurassic Coast Studies Centre.

The students had been selected by teachers after submitting video applications to prove their skills in the kitchen.

Read one students account of her experience below:

Lucy Pearson, Year 11, said “After being in London a day already it was the big day! After catching a few tubes we arrived at Canada Water tube station where we were picked up by one of Moving Venues drivers. We were driven to their base in Deptford. On arrival we could see how big their facilities were and it all seemed fairly daunting. Once we were inside we were introduced to one of Moving Venues Event Mangers, Roya Shafiei, who would be looking after us throughout the day. After a short introduction and tour of the offices we donned the white coats ready to enter the kitchens.  As soon as we entered the very professional kitchens we were introduced to the chef who would be our mentor. We were given a short tour of the kitchen and shown several aspects such as the different fridges, cold rooms and freezers which were much larger than those we were used too! Our tour also included us being shown the different areas to the kitchens including the canapé section and pastry section. We were soon under way with food preparation after all the necessary health and safety talks. To start with we did food preparation including preparing green beans, fennel and peeling cherry tomatoes. After the first few hours of kitchen work we had a lunch break where we were treated to some pasta prepared by the one of the chefs. This was an interesting time as we got to talk to many different people from different areas within the company. This gave us a really good insight into how the company runs as a whole. After the break we were back into the kitchen.

During the second half we were able to prepare a whole aspect of one of the dishes on our own. This included chopping baby lettuces into quarters and preparing a dressing made up of an infused olive oil and white wine. Once the lettuce and dressing were prepared and after we had seasoned it with salt, pepper and rosemary we braised them in the oven for around seven minutes. This opportunity was amazing; it showed we were trusted to prepare a whole element of a dish which would be used at one of their major events. We also did tasks including putting parsnip purée into piping bags and helping in the pastry section for a short while cutting and shaping cakes.  By this time our feet were really starting to suffer as we had been on them all day, we definitely learnt the importance of comfortable shoes! Unfortunately our time in the kitchens had come to an end; however we only had a few hours until we would be helping with the final push towards the evenings banquet.

We left the Moving Venues base in a slightly less enthusiastic way than we had arrived. After a few tubes we were at the National History Museum, the venue for the banquet. We had a short while to look around the museum before all the general public had to leave.  We took a short walk round the side of the museum were we were met by Roya. We took the staff route into the museum. This experience was rather unusual as the museum was now silent, dark and empty. Before long the silence was gone as everyone was in action preparing the kitchens, dining hall and drinks area. The kitchen staff have to set up a make shift kitchen in the museum along with the front of house team who set up the exquisite dining area. Hence the name Moving Venues! During this time there was an amazing transformation in the Fossil Hall. It was transformed into an elegant and sophisticated dining area.  As quickly as the transformation had begun it was all over again, it was amazing how quickly and efficiently it was transformed. By this time we were all getting rather tired, however we still had a long night ahead of us.

All the food is prepared at the Moving Venues facility in Deptford and transported to the venue; this meant that there was a lot of organising and unpacking to do.

After this we were presented to the 50 prestigious guests by Marcus Dixon from the Lyme Regis Development Trust.  We quickly found our places back in the kitchen and began helping with the service of the starter. We each had an element of the starter we were responsible for; these included the Pollock fish cakes, poached quail’s egg and rocket garnish. This time was fairly stressful as we had to work quickly but carefully insuring that the plate looked fantastic and the food got out quick enough so it was hot. Luckily, after the hard work of platting up the starters, we were each able to try it. We were then onto the main course which worked in a similar way, we were each given an element and before we knew it the food had been served. We were soon onto the dessert and nearly at the end of the very exciting day. The majority of the dessert had already been put on the plate however we each helped with the finishing touched.  We were all allowed to try the meal which cost £75 per head, including the starter, main course and dessert. It really was a superb menu and the food was delightful. We all found it a great experience to be able to try the meal as it included many new flavours and textures we would otherwise not have tried. Sadly this was the end of our very exciting day, we all came away inspired and with many new tips and ideas to try out in our own kitchens at home! It was a fantastic experience which gave us a great insight into the catering industry.”

Mrs Wood said “We are so appreciative of the support and time the Moving Venues staff gave to us whilst we were in London. They were brilliant with the students and I was particularly proud of them. We all thought it was very informative and a fantastic experience. Well done.”

Natural History Museum Banquet

Arts College Projects