Student Chef Benji Cooks Up a Treat for the NHS

“It’s been really busy. We’re in week 8 and so far we’re coming up to our 6000th meal.” Trainee chef Benji Nathan doesn’t like to have nothing to do. When faced with the prospect of no work for weeks or maybe even months because of the UK-wide COVID-19 lockdown, some people might be tempted to kick back a bit and relax.

Not Benji. In addition to his online studies with Westminster Kingsway College, he works for his cousin Adam in his catering business Adam Nathan Catering, preparing delicious dishes for the company’s clients. When the lockdown was announced in March, Adam asked Benji if he could help out more, as Adam wanted to continue creating dishes for any of the firm’s clients who still needed them and to help support the NHS at the same time.

A photo of chef Benji Nathan, who is helping to cook meals for NHS workers during the COVID-19 crisis.

As Benji explains: “A friend of Adam’s works at the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery in Central London. She told us that many of the staff weren’t eating properly, because they are really busy and the canteen is closed now, because of the virus. We thought we could help, so whenever we get an order for our meals from a paying customer, we offer them the chance to spend an extra £10 to ‘donate a meal’ to the hospital. With the help of Richard Delow, who trained to be a chef at Westminster Kingsway College and The Vincent Rooms too, we’re averaging 130 meals for the hospital each week, which is all thanks to the generosity of our customers.”

A photo of meals for NHS workers during the COVID-19 crisis.

As well as catering for the company’s customers and the donated NHS meals, Benji also bakes for a north London community organisation called You Donate We Deliver, which provides free meals for NHS workers. Since it was started by a north London mum and her daughter at the end of March, You Donate We Deliver has gone from helping a handful people to feeding thousands of staff in hospitals across north London every day, with the help of a small army of delivery drivers and chefs like Benji, coordinated through six ‘hubs’ across the region.

Benji continues: “When I leave college I want to be a chef. I am studying on the college’s Pastry diploma to expand my knowledge and become a more well-rounded professional. So every week at home with my family, I bake around 150 portions – cakes mostly – for my local You Donate We Deliver hub in Totteridge.  It’s wonderful to be able to do what I love, while helping the NHS at the same time!”

But that isn’t all. As well as baking for NHS staff, and the catering work and NHS meals he prepares with Adam and Richard, Benji also has to keep up his Westminster Kingsway college studies, even while it’s closed. He is in his third year at the college and, before the lockdown, was studying at our Victoria campus full-time. Now working at home or from Adam Nathan Catering’s St Albans kitchen, Benji has been able to continue learning and has enjoyed watching the college’s ‘lockdown’ online Culinary Masterclasses series too. “The other chefs in the kitchen and I have watched the Masterclasses and really enjoyed them. The next Masterclass is with Sarah Mountain [a well-known Pastry Chef] and I’m really looking forward to that!”

As you’d expect, Benji’s Level 3 Patisserie Diploma course has many practical elements, so, although he can’t attend college and practice his craft in the kitchens there, he’s definitely keeping his eye in at home. “I am very busy doing college work, plus all the meals I’m doing with Adam, and baking for You Donate We Deliver. I love it and it’s very rewarding!

“I have also been practicing other baking techniques and learning new skills too. For example, I’ve been learning how to make flowers and things like that out of fondant icing, to decorate cakes. It’s my Grandma’s 95th birthday soon and I’m going to make her a cake and hand-pipe some flowers to go on it.  I hope she likes it.”

PS: Benji’s Grandma loved her cake!
RATE US ON TRIPADVISOR
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.
SUBSCRIBE HERE FOR OUR LATEST NEWS & EVENTS
Please tick here to confirm you're happy for us to use your information to provide you with information about The Vincent Rooms and other relevant Capital City College Group projects. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
FIND US
Westminster Kingsway College
76 Vincent Square
London SW1P 2PD