North East Connected

Students get a taste of Michelin-starred cooking

A RENOWNED chef turned up the heat for trainee cooks as he helped them to prepare a Michelin star quality meal.

Former Darlington College apprentice Sean Wrest spent two days working with students at Darlington College in preparation for a sold out evening of fine dining.

Sean, 27, a senior sous chef at the celebrated Black Swan in Oldstead, near Thirsk, tutored Level 2 and Level 3 catering students to create a nine course tasting menu for guests at the college’s Glasshouse Restaurant.

Sean, who left Darlington College after securing his Level 2 and 3 qualifications, trained at the Sandpiper Inn, Leyburn, for three years under chef patron Jonathan Harrison before an internship at the three Michelin star restaurant the Fat Duck in Bray, owned by Heston Blumenthal.

Returning home, Sean took up a position at Yorebridge House, Bainbridge, before moving further afield to train at the fine dining restaurant Maaemo, in Oslo, Norway.

Senior lecturer and Sean’s former Darlington College tutor Dawn Cobb-Neate said: “Sean was in one of the first apprentice groups that I taught at Darlington College and I’ve followed his career closely since he left us. Right from day one I could see that he had the drive, ambition and enthusiasm needed in the industry and I knew that he would go places.

“It is so inspiring for our current Level 3 students to have a chef from a Michelin starred restaurant come in to work with them. We had so many Level 2 students who volunteered to help that I had to turn some of them down.

“Some of the processes that he has been showing them have been incredible and I have also been learning a few things from him myself.”

Also assisting in the preparation was ex Darlington College student Ben Purkiss-Mcendoo, who volunteered to return to the college kitchens to work with Sean.

Ben, 22, of Richmond, a commis chef at the Sandpiper Inn, said: “I’d love to go down the Michelin star route as I’m fascinated by fine dining and what makes it the best.

“I jumped at the chance to work with Sean as it’s always great to learn new ways and techniques from the best chefs.”

The Glasshouse Restaurant experience was enhanced for diners by Sean’s girlfriend Sam Haigh, who runs front of house as restaurant manager at The Black Swan.

“You get to the point in life where it is really important to give something back,” said Sean.

“I got a great education at Darlington College and my work experiences have taught me so much that it was time to come back and pass on some of that knowledge to a whole new generation of chefs.

“It has really reminded me of my early days coming back and the students have been amazing. It is always a bit nerve-wracking preparing for so many diners but I had total confidence in all of the students here to deliver on the night.”

Level 2 student Molly Webster, 18, of Leeming, added: “It has been amazing working with Sean I’ve learnt so much from him.

“He is a great teacher, really helpful and he takes the time to train and really explain things with a lot of patience.

“It’s so inspiring to learn from someone who started off in these kitchens and who has made it so far in the industry.”

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