Spectacular double for top college chefs

July 2, 2019

Milton Keynes College’s hugely successful Catering Department has scooped two more top national prizes.  19 year old Talia Barrington has been named MasterChefs of Great Britain, Young Chef of the Year while pastry expert Andrea Ruff has been awarded the title of Craft Guild of Chefs Chef Lecturer of the Year.  The College Catering team is on an incredible roll.  Three former students appeared on BBC MasterChef the Professionals while the chic College restaurant, The Brasserie, is the current AA College Restaurant of the Year and is already into the finals for the 2019 event.

Head of School, Maria Bowness, says, “This department, the staff and the students, have a shared ambition to be seen as the best of the best in what we do, and I could not be more proud of all our incredible award winners.  It shows an astonishing level of creativity and determination all round and they all deserve everything they’ve worked so hard for.

Talia prepared an incredible menu (see below) for the judges and won through in spite of being up against some top professionals who were several years older and more experienced than she is.  She says, “It’s just amazing; this will open so many doors for me and I really can’t quite believe it.  I have to thank my classmates for being really supportive but especially my lecturers who I obviously couldn’t have done it without.  So many other colleges are a bit old-fashioned teaching things like traditional silver service.  Milton Keynes is really up to the mark and totally on trend.  It’s just a brilliant place to learn.”  Talia hopes to run her own business one day, possibly selling her own brand of delicious street food, although with this accolade on her CV she is definitely going to be in great demand from professional kitchens up and down the country.

Andrea Ruff has been teaching patisserie students for twenty-two years and does a lot of work behind the scenes for a number of top organisations in the field.  She runs the highly prestigious Claire Clark Academy at the College which is a recognised centre of patisserie excellence running full and part-time courses to produce top quality pastries.  Andrea says, “It means everything to be recognised by your peers and to be honoured by them is an amazing feeling.  I am delighted and honoured to have received the award and feel very humbled to have won it.”

Last year Pastry student Holly Woodman won the MCGB Young pastry chef of the year and she’s now working at a five star hotel in the West End of London.  This year’s accolade of Pastry Chef of the Year went to another former student of Andrea’s too.  “Good cooking comes from the heart, is done from love, and so is good teaching.  Through teaching we pass on our skills to students who in turn pass on those skills to others.  Teaching is my passion and I hope that I instil that passion in my classes and onto my students.  I am very grateful to Claire Clark MBE and MK College for the opportunity that I have been given to teach here over the last three years, it’s a great place to work.

Talia’s Three Course Menu

Mussels dashi with fennel, wild mushrooms, mangetout and carrot over Scottish Salmon

Corn-fed chicken roasted on the crown with sweetcorn salsa, burnt leek, jalapeno corn bread, chicken lollipop and wild garlic mayo

Compressed watermelon with caramelised white chocolate mousse, black sesame ice cream, yuzu gel, toasted coconut and shiso green syrup with pickled watermelon rind


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