Mansfield chef Nathanial Weaver returned to his culinary roots at West Nottinghamshire College to train the current crop of industry hopefuls as a ‘guest chef’ at an event at the college’s Refined restaurant.
Nathanial, 23, joined forces with catering and hospitality students to serve-up a seven-course fine dining feast to more than 50 customers featuring dishes inspired by his two years working at the Michellen-starred restaurant John’s House in Leicestershire.
He guided learners on the NVQ level three diploma in professional cookery through a frenetic evening service that replicated a Michelin-starred establishment, with each person responsible for a key element of each dish of a luxurious meal which included ‘snax’, an ‘amuse’ and a main fish, meat or vegetarian dish, followed by a pre-dessert and finally petit fours.
Five-star service came courtesy of students on the NVQ level two and three diplomas in hospitality, supervision and leadership.
Nathanial, from Meden Vale, left Redbrick House to join John’s House as a junior sous chef under the tutelage of celebrated chef patron John Duffin, which he described as a ‘massive leap’ regularly clocking up 110-hour weeks.
He said: “Working in a Michelin-starred restaurant really opened my eyes.
“It makes or breaks you. Either you last a month and quit, or you stick at it and become a better chef. I stuck at it.
“Once you get over the initial shock of the long hours and the high demands, you start learning more about flavours, seasoning and different techniques.
“It expands on everything you thought and knew about cooking and turns it into a completely new experience.
“Then you get to the point where you start developing your own dishes. It fundamentally changes you as a chef.”
Deciding it was time to come home, Nathanial joined Thoresby Hall near Ollerton last year as a senior sous chef.
Longer-term, he plans to move to Australia and combine his love of food and travel, while also broadening his culinary repertoire.
He said: “Being back at college was really nice.
“It was good to see the students working so hard and to have the opportunity to work alongside my ex-tutor Mark once again.
“Just four years ago I was one of those students and it’s fantastic to realise how much you can learn in that time. I enjoyed being able to pass on my skills and ideas to today’s up-and-coming chefs.
“I was really happy with the quality of the dishes they put out, both in the preparation, cooking and plating-up.
“They knew what they were doing and worked well together.”