The students at Westminster Kingsway College’s School of Culinary Arts and Hospitality (WestKing) will be learning about different seasonal fruit and vegetables each month this year thanks to traders at New Covent Garden Market.
The award-winning college, in Victoria, is responsible for training many of the capital’s top chefs just a mile away from the Market. The students create exquisite menus for WestKing’s four restaurants, including the top-rated Vincent Rooms, and already, the vast majority of the fruit and veg was sourced from here.
This year though, the collaboration will be stepped up, as NCGM provides selected products each month for students to focus on, along with a monthly fact sheet with information on the product, the grower and its supply chain. In January, the main product is January King, a hardy cabbage variety that grows well in even the harshest conditions and has distinct, densely packed leaves and an intense flavour profile.
“As well as teaching them how to create great dishes, we like our students to learn about the different foods they are cooking with,” said José Souto, Senior Chef Lecturer in Culinary Arts at Westking. “We have always had an interactive relationship with New Covent Garden and this initiative will shine a light on how and where the products are grown, their nutritional value and the way the supply chain works. Every top chef in London will work with a trader at the market, so to get them engaged at this stage of their development is really important.”
Paul Grimshaw, Managing Director of NCGM distributor D.D.P Ltd, will work with wholesalers across the market to supply the selected products each month. He said: “We’ve devised a schedule for the year, which gives the student chefs opportunities to work with a diverse range of fruit and vegetables from a variety of sources. There is a big focus on seasonality and sustainability and a lot of the product will be British, but we’ll also be including imported product, for example pomegranates in January, to let them know about how the supply chain works more broadly.”
José added: “It’s key that young chefs understand the seasons and WestKing tutors continually work with our suppliers to find innovative ways to educate our students about the availability and origin of the products they cook with. We encourage the students to do their own research too and NCGM will be supporting them in doing that throughout this year.”