Teaching and Learning During Lockdown

Phoebe Berry

The third month of lockdown restrictions is well under way and we have all had to make changes and adapt to this new way of life. At Westminster Kingsway College, our hospitality students and teachers have had to find clever and creative ways to stay on top their game with this very hands-on subject whilst the college buildings are closed.

In this blog, hospitality lecturer Marc Whitley and student Phoebe Berry share their unique experiences of teaching and learning during the lockdown.

Marc Whitley, Lecturer in Hospitality, Food and Beverage

“The lockdown has been a huge challenge for teachers across the country, but particularly for those teaching hands-on, practical subjects like hospitality and culinary arts. It’s been a steep learning curve for me and my students. I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the response from students, which has been better than I anticipated, and they have really bought into what we are trying to achieve, which is continuing education.

“I have had to think outside of the box while remaining within the curriculum (set by City and Guilds). For example, one assignment was for my students to set up a table at home, as they would in our award winning training restaurant in Victoria, The Escoffier Room. They had to go through the steps of taking an order, serving the food and clearing the table, as well serving and presenting a bottle of wine. For this front of house assignment, I asked them to video or take pictures of the different stages of the process, so that I could assess them and give immediate feedback. It was fun to see how they improvised on the equipment that they had at home from the starter through to the coffee service.

“We had an interesting array of guests, including dogs sitting in chairs, teddy bears, little brothers and sisters and grandparents. Some worked alone taking orders and holding conversations with stuffed animals! Others made it a family affair, enticing family members to play the role of customers. One student even had her front of house uniform, on which shows the level of commitment. The feedback I received was that our students were very proud to be showing off their skills to their families.

“We did this all through our Microsoft Teams software which is an apt name considering teamwork has never been stronger. I’ve found all the students are really pulling together during this time and helping each other out, which is great to see. I have also spoken to parents who are really supportive of how we are handling the current situation and the tools available to their children, especially the funding for laptops provided by the college.

“For the next four weeks I’ll have a new group of students who I have never met and who haven’t met me. This will be a new challenge but also a rewarding one. It’s an opportunity to prove exactly what you can achieve and what past life experiences you reach into to make this situation work. We are all working together in a way we haven’t before, which I know will carry on when we all return.

“This had been a learning and development exercise for us all and the lecturers in the Culinary Arts have been a great support to each other in making this work. WestKing may be closed but the teaching is continuing in the heart of the student’s homes.”

Phoebe Berry – Level 1 Professional Chef Diploma

“When the lockdown started, I was three weeks in to work experience at Lords Cricket Ground. It was such an amazing opportunity and I was really enjoying what I was learning in their three separate professional kitchens. Just before lockdown started, I was working in the pastry kitchen creating fine dining desserts for up to 300 people at a time. There is also the Committee Dining Room Kitchen, where the players eat during the cricket season and the Main Kitchen where the staff of Grounds eat. I was having a great time and learning a lot, so I was really disappointed it had to come to an end so abruptly. However, I’ve been offered a summer placement when this is over. It will be during the cricket season which is really exciting.

“Since the lockdown started our tutors have kept us busy with a range of learning methods, from online tasks to quizzes which has been interesting and fun. I’m quite confident on the theory and couldn’t wait to get back in the kitchen so when I was set the food sustainability task I jumped at the chance.

“The brief was to create a meal with only the ingredients that I had in my cupboard at home. In light of the pandemic, it’s difficult for people to make quick and regular trips to the supermarket. Making frugal meals with limited ingredients and food sustainability has never been more important. I then did a live demonstration of making the recipe which was filmed and uploaded to YouTube.

“I decided to make three separate meals using one whole chicken. Firstly, a classic roast dinner to feed a family. I boiled down the chicken carcass to create a stock and from this made a chicken risotto and an Asian chicken soup using the chicken leftovers. I was given technical support from my tutor and convinced my mum to film it!

“I was really surprised with the response to the video. I’ve had a ton of positive feedback. It was my first time in front of a camera and I really enjoyed doing it. I will definitely be creating more recipes and uploading them during the lockdown. My teachers have been really supportive during lockdown and the thing I miss most is the camaraderie of the kitchen. But his has been a great way to keep creating and keep honing my skills.”

RATE US ON TRIPADVISOR
Sebastien R
Sebastien R
12/12/2020
Fantastic London Secret Fantastic lunch with Michelin star food and service at pub price. Great experience, lovely food and people.
David L
David L
11/12/2020
Christmas at the Brasserie Almost a year to the day since the last time, we are back, this time at the Brasserie instead of the Escoffier. Situated in the hall, the decor is functional but pleasant enough and there had been an effort to dress it up for Christmas. Covid precautions are impeccably implemented. There is no doubt that you are in a classroom not a restaurant. Don't let that put you off - its great what these students and their teachers do. Our server was Tia (hope I spelled that right) and she was friendly and attentive. Service was very prompt - I won't say rushed as we were never pressured but we did end up asking for some time to choose dessert simply to give ourselves some breathing room. In a commercial place I would suspect they were trying to turn the tables but here I think it was just exuberance. The food was the usual high standard. Starter of poached pear and blue cheese salad was enjoyed by both of us. Dining companion had the classic turkey and all the trimmings. I had the root vegetable strudel which was beautifully presented and enjoyable. The chocolate mousse for dessert was nice but we both found it too sweet for us and thought the cream was a step too far - but we chose it instead of the cheese board because we wanted to have something prepared by the kitchen. Value is great for the level of food and service: the bill came to about £90 for 3 courses each and a bottle of wine. Snags: they forgot to offer us bread before the starters arrived, rectified before we had even thought to notice the absence. And my mousse was missing the tiny star shaped shortbreads as advertised - only spotted by us half way through eating it. None of which detracted in anyway from the experience. It cannot be said enough that this is a great place that needs support to enable these students to progress. Go if you can, it's a gem. I hope that 2021 is a better year for the hospitality sector and that we are back much sooner than next Christmas.
Peter B
Peter B
04/12/2020
Amazing delicious meal We had the Christmas meat menu and it was very special. The whole meal had just the right amount of seasoning - perfect. The cauliflower cheese soup with cauliflower pieces was complimented by a slight spicy fried bhaji. The prawn sauce with the fish was delicate and perfect with the haddock. Now the venison was not only tender but really well cooked and the chutney was really tasty - a Christmas's flavour. To finish the chutney I would have needed more venison but was getting a bit full by then. The Christmas pudding was to die for. Congratulations a brilliant meal beautifully prepared with fabulous ingredients and the service was nearly Michelin starred. Well be back
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!
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76 Vincent Square
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