Our History

Westminster Kingsway College’s Victoria Centre, home to The Vincent Rooms, has a long history of education in the hospitality and culinary arts industry and in 2010, the School of Hospitality celebrated its 100th anniversary. As part of the centenary celebrations, the college welcomed HRH The Prince of Wales on a visit to the Victoria Centre where he toured the teaching kitchens and met staff and students.

The School of Hospitality was formed one hundred years ago when a committee of concerned academics and hospitality representatives, which included Auguste Escoffier, Cesar Ritz, Isadore Salmon and Baroness Burdett-Coutts, came together to develop a school for professional cookery. Many of London’s finest hotels were being opened during this period in a new age of hospitality for the 20th century, including the Ritz Hotel London opened in 1906, the Waldorf Astoria in 1908 and the family-run Goring Hotel in 1910. 

The ‘Westminster Technical Institute’ was established in 1894 in a two-storey building, provided by Baroness Burdett-Coutts, who had founded the nearby St. Stephen’s Church on Rochester Row and the Burdett-Coutts School.

Auguste Escoffier

Following the consultations with the hospitality industry in London, the Catering School first opened its doors in 1910 under the guidance of the first Principal, J. Stuart Ker. Records show that this was in fact the first Culinary Arts School to open in the UK. The initial prospectus illustrates the range of courses that were offered, including Civil Engineering, Gas Engineering, Architecture and Construction, Cabinet Making, School of Art and finally, the Cookery Technical Day School, which developed into the Professional Chef Diploma. By 1912, catering had four pages in the prospectus and a ‘School for Waiters’ was added. As their vision was to inspire both students and staff in culinary arts and science, it was decided that a training restaurant was vital to enable students to practice cooking and serving meals to the public. Today this is known as The Vincent Rooms, which continues to provide students with hands-on experience and diners with outstanding food.

At the time, the majority of head chefs employed in London were from France, led by the Chef de Cuisine Auguste Escoffier at the Savoy Hotel. Auguste Escoffier founded the Société Culinaire Française with Chef Emile Fetu in 1903, later to merge with the Club Culinaire to become the Association Culinaire Française. The interwar years saw the continuation of the evening classes in engineering and art and the day courses in catering. Mr Ker, Principal since 1907, was replaced in 1932 by Dr G. N. Long. Major extensions to the building in Vincent Square, particularly to incorporate the needs of the catering courses, followed. Large scale catering equipment, cold rooms, a larder and pastry areas were added in 1932. A two-year Hotel Managers’ course was established alongside the food service course. 

In 1951 the Vincent Rooms restaurant was extended and in 1953, the Escoffier Room opened; a fine dining room named after Auguste Escoffier. During this period further kitchens were added as well as a wine cellar. The number of courses for both chefs and front of house students also continued to grow.  

In 2010, the School of Hospitality celebrated its 100th anniversary. As part of the centenary celebrations, the College welcomed HRH The Prince of Wales on a visit to the Victoria Centre where he toured the teaching kitchens and met staff and students as well as a group from the Princes Trust that were being trained by the College.

In 2012, Westminster Kingsway College launched its new innovative teaching kitchens at the Victoria Centre with a launch event for stakeholders, sponsors, college governors, staff and students. The new facilities include the Baroness Burdett-Coutts Kitchen for International Culinary students, a culinary science and kitchen innovation laboratory, and a chocolate laboratory.

The Escoffier Restaurant was completely redesigned and refurbished in September 2019. It is now a modern contemporary restaurant with high ceilings and original windows, allowing natural light to flood in. Reidel sponsor all of our Escoffier Glassware and and Jeroboams Wine Shop kindly donated our menus, wine list and digestive leather presenters.

The bar in the Brasserie was refurbished in February 2019, maintaining its art deco history but bringing it to modern standards. The cocktail menu holders were donated by Matthew Clark Drink Suppliers.

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Veniceaddict7
Veniceaddict7
22/10/2020
Delightful meal Visted for lunch today in Escoffier Room (held in Brasserie section on this occasion). Welcomed warmly by reception and students as usual. The Escoffier menu was outstanding. There was not a course you could fault. The compte brulee was my favourite - will try and duplicate this at home! Food was beautifully presented and superb. The students were effecient,friendly and helpful. Better than my birthday meal at a Michelen starred restaurant. Sadly not many customers due to covid however very safe set up so would encourage others to go. Amazing value for money.
Edwardscot
Edwardscot
21/10/2020
The Vincent Rooms I had a very pleasant and relaxed 5 course meal with wine pairing. The food and wine were excellent, the staff are students at the college and are helpful and informative. For £60 it can’t be beat for value. A firm favourite.
W14wanderer
W14wanderer
21/10/2020
Budding chef’s creations Delicious food created and served by students at Westminster Kingsway College. Six course tasting menu - wine and food - of very high quality and at a very reasonable price. The experience so enjoyable and good to encourage the young chefs who’ll be running our restaurants in due course.
Tully
Tully
19/10/2020
Lovely lunch, hope to return soon We ate in the Escoffier and had the seafood menu with accompanying wines. All was very good and we enjoyed very much. To my personal taste : 1. the tomato consume added little to the seafood medley. 2. The crumble detracted from the sorbet. 3. The chocolate bavoirois would have benefitted from a contrasting flavour on the plate, eg citrus, ginger, or other fruit. Thank you and best wishes to all the students.
Sue Twyford
Sue Twyford
13/10/2020
Fantastic menu and attentive service A lovely atmosphere with very attentive service, a seven course seafood themed menu. Each course was delicious, the dover sole being a particular delight. The price for a fine dining menu was excellent and well worth a visit, we will be returning and would highly recommend.
Laura E
Laura E
08/10/2020
Perfect lunch - delicious dishes and great service Like most people, my husband and I haven't eaten out that much recently so it was a real treat to come here for lunch yesterday. The tables were spaced out very comfortably and the environment was modern, inviting and spacious. The menu (which changes every week) was really interesting, created in partnership with New Covent Garden Market so you could chose to have an entirely vegetarian 7-course lunch or one which included fish and meat, but conveniently you could pick and chose per course. I mainly had the fish/meat menu but hand-picked the artichoke starter which was so fresh and tasty, a great choice. The pork belly main with scallop was a definite highlight, but all the dishes displayed a high level of sophistication and strong mastery of different techniques. Im a celiac and they were very good at accommodating this in the dishes, even giving me different petit fours. Top marks, we will be returning soon!
Tom_Egerton
Tom_Egerton
08/10/2020
The best value, high quality, enjoyable eating in London for sure! We ate at the Escoffier room which is the 7 course set menu option. A bargain at £31 a head which included super high quality produce cooked with skill by the third year students. Interesting, flavoursome dishes with a weekly changing set menu. This week was a sea food based menu which didn't disappoint. service staff are first year students which are learning the ropes in the hospitality world. Maximum effort and attention was given by everyone we met. well worth checking out if you want something a bit special and we will definitely be returning again soon!
Denis438
Denis438
07/10/2020
THIRD VISIT- OUTSTANDING AGAIN Another great lunch with friends , our third visit to Escoffier and many visits to the Brasserie in the past, see pervious reviews. First time to the newly decorated Escoffier, which has been done very tastefully, another truly enjoyable culinary experience and service by the students of a six courses theme menu with matching wines with a vegetarian options if required, outstanding value. The presentation and quality of the dishes were excellent with students explaining each dish as it was served. The whole location is very COVID secure, well done to everyone. This is a must visit when in London, as usual we will back. Thank You again.
Alison M
Alison M
06/10/2020
Try it you will not be disappointed Had a fantastic lunch in the Escoffier room. 6 amazing courses well put together and very reasonably priced, being cooked and served by the students at Westminster College. Julia our server was very personable and attentive (in a non intrusive way) All the courses were well cooked, the standout being the fish course, a perfectly cooked sole paupiette and fine vegetables showing excellent knife skills. With a different theme each week (British seafood this week) certainly a place to visit regularly.
helenW7024UT
helenW7024UT
30/09/2020
Superb food in a Covid secure restaurant This was our first visit in the new academic year. Based on previous visits our expectations were very high and to our astonishment the quality of cooking was even higher than we remembered. We had six dishes between the two of us (we always share!) and all of them could have come from a high-end professional kitchen - they were tasty, innovative and very well presented. David, the student assigned to look after us, was unobtrusive but attentive, showing true professionalism. Also from our entering the building to our leaving we were very aware of how much thought was put by staff into making sure that the whole experience was made as Covid-secure as possible. I would strongly recommend a visit to this restaurant, not only because of its very reasonably priced excellent food and service but also in order to support the college staff in training future generations of hospitality professionals. I thank all of the staff and students for their superb service and look forward to another visit.
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Westminster Kingsway College
76 Vincent Square
London SW1P 2PD