STUNNING panoramic views as the sun set over London on 13 July vied for centre stage at the celebration dinner for 10 graduates from the Académie Culinaire/Bournemouth and Poole College of Further Eduction specialised chefs course.
The rather unusual venue for the dinner was the 38th floor of the International Financial Centre in the heart of the City of London. It was chosen because Roux Fine Dining, which holds the catering contract at the centre, is one of the sponsors of this year's group of successful graduates.
While the sun setting formed the backdrop, the stars of the show were the graduates, who had just completed their three-year block release course, during which they successfully achieved NVQ qualifications in food preparation and cooking, food service, pƒtisserie and confectionery, as well as the Académie's own diploma in professional cookery.
The graduates devised and prepared the menu, for more than 100 guests, aided by David Boland, chef de cuisine for the specialised chefs' course, and Roger Naylor, executive chef for Roux Fine Dining.
"They worked extremely hard," said Naylor, "particularly considering the logistical difficulty of transporting the food from the kitchens on the 24th floor to the dinner on the 38th." While most catering functions within the building take place on the 24th floor, where there is a 50-seat restaurant and dining and conference rooms, the 38th floor was chosen because of its spectacular views.
Naylor is full of praise for the specialised chefs course, which was launched in January 1989. "It has produced some outstanding young chefs," he said. "Many have passed through the ranks of Roux Fine Dining and gone on to work in eminent positions abroad. Darren Lock has become head chef of an exclusive hotel in New York State, while Chris Ivens-Brown heads the Roux Fine Dining contract at the Nations Bank in Charlotte, North Carolina."
Following the presentation of Académie diplomas by chairman Brian Turner, the 10 graduates - Robert Attwood, Abbie Bennett, Steven Jones, Robert McEnnerney, Dale Osborne, Simon Reach, Jerzy Rozputynski, Daniel Sherlock, James Watson and Matthew White - took their final applause. n