When I was invited to attend a lunch cooked by students as part of The Skills Show, the first thing that crept into my head was a Whitney Houston song. Once that was over, I remembered a course that was hosted at University College Birmingham, which gave me the perfect opportunity to visit the bakery and purchase delightful bread and cakes made by students. So of course I said yes.
The lunch was part of the Skills Show, the UK’s largest careers event for young people, jam-packed with exhibitors from further education, apprenticeships and industry. Organisers Find a Future, are keen on experiential learning, so there were plenty of hands-on demos for students to talk part in, simulation centres and the chance to prepare and serve lunch overseen by Aktar Islam, from The Lasan Group.
The bread, which I had such fond memories of, was served first and was deliciously warm and as good as I remembered. Then the first course, deep-fried soft-shell crab, crab cakes and tomato chutney. I’ve never eaten deep fried soft-shelled crab, but it was lovely and delicate with flavoursome batter that somehow didn’t overpower the crab, nor was it greasy.
For main we had Aktar’s take on the Great British Roast: Ox cheek, spiced sirloin of beef, Yorkshire pudding, buttered vegetables and beluga lentils. The ox cheek was beautiful; it fell apart at the slightest touch and had such a wonderful flavour it made me wonder why it’s not on more menus. The spiced beef had been cooked well and the spice worked with the meat rather than overpower it. And call me simple, but I adore a Yorkshire pudding and they’re so rarely done well, but this one was; it was neither dry, burnt nor greasy.
For pudding we were served Spiced Queen of Puddings, which was beautifully presented. It tasted a bit creamy and with my lactose intolerance playing up I only ate a little, though I was the only person at the table to leave any. The raspberry sorbet cut through the creaminess to add extra dimension in flavour and the marshmallow tips were lovely and smooth.
During the meal the service by the students was excellent, neither too overbearing nor scare. My drink remained topped, plates were cleared efficiently and they were very passionate about their courses. Afterwards Aktar came over and spoke to each table individually, praising the work of the students and the work of UCB, which was lovely to hear.
Feeling rather full, I attempted to walk off some of the lunch by checking out a few of the exhibitions and saw lots of enthusiastic and engaged students learning to make cocktails, discovering the artistry behind cake decorating and trying out some of the simulations.
The Skills Show was a great event and a truly fantastic lunch – these students have clearly been taught well and will lead the way to a gastronomic success.
Disclosure: I was invited to attend lunch at The Skills Show because of my ‘foodie focus’. I wasn’t expected to write a good review and I definitely wasn’t required to link to a Whitney Houston video either, but if I have to have it as an earworm then so do you. All photos are my own.