Flavours of Istanbul in the UK
A new international partnership is bridging together a Turkish and an English City & Guilds college
11 February 2014
The mission of Turkish college Mutfak Sanatlari Akademisi (MSA) is to ensure that Turkish cuisine is found and taught at the best culinary schools in the world, keeping the heritage of Turkey alive by documenting the intricacies, flavours and ingredients of the nation’s cooking. It’s an ambition that has led this City & Guilds college to work hand-in-hand with top culinary academies, sending more than 4500 graduates to work in world-renowned international hotels and restaurants.
Students at South Downs College are now benefiting from MSA’s expertise, with a Turkish banquet held at the college a few weeks ago to signify the launch of a partnership between the two colleges.
‘In this industry it’s very important to forge strong international links,’ says Bade Tomruk, Head of Student Admissions at MSA. ‘We tell our students they must have some international experience and to make this happen we have to collaborate with schools that are very successful in their own regions or countries. We all have so much to learn from each other because this is not a profession where you can ever learn everything there is to know.’
Level 2 and 3 Craft Catering students worked alongside chefs from MSA at the Turkish banquet, held in the South Downs College on-site restaurant.
They served up a menu of meze, lamb shanks, Turkish delight and Turkish coffee over the course of the evening.
The students are trained to work in both front and back of house, and the qualifications are geared to ensure students can work professionally with paying customers. ‘To give them the opportunity to work at a banquet like this and also experience the culinary culture of this part of the world first hand was quite significant,' said Jacqui Smith, Head of Catering, Hospitality and Tourism at South Downs College.
For Jake Mulhall, a Level 3 Craft Catering student at South Downs College, it was great to see the different methods, style of cooking and choice of ingredients used by the chefs. ‘The chefs took ingredients that we use every day and made something completely different.’
Roberta Allgood, also a catering student, liked being taught the traditional methods with a modern twist by the international chefs. ‘It is completely different from the type of cooking that we do usually – for example they bake the pasta rather than boil it. I plan to use some of the techniques that we learned in my Head Chef project later in the year.’
MSA celebrates its tenth anniversary next year. Offering courses in professional cookery, pastry and bakery, bartending and mixology, culinary management and entrepreneurialism and more, MSA is ranked by the World Association of Chefs Society (WACS) as one of the top two culinary education providers in the world.
‘You really get that feeling when you walk into MSA that everything we do here is top quality,’ says Bade. ‘We work with the best executive chefs in the world and the entrance procedure is very strict; we take in students by application only after a one-on-one interview, so the class of students is getting better and better with every term.’
Bade visited South Downs College with MSA chefs last year and was impressed by its facilities, philosophy of teaching, staff and students. ‘The new partnership means two City & Guilds colleges coming together so we’re very excited – it's a new experience for everyone involved.’
Looking to the future, Jacqui hopes the partnership will give students from South Downs College the opportunity to showcase a similar evening of British cuisine in Istanbul. ‘We’re also considering setting up an online mentoring facility between our students and lecturers at MSA,’ she adds.
Iain Ballie, Senior Chef Lecturer at South Downs College, has taken the first steps towards an ongoing partnership between the two colleges, hosting a lecture to MSA students on British butchery techniques. Speaking about his four-day trip, Iain said, ‘Visiting the Academy was fantastic. I am very hopeful that this new link will lead to many more opportunities for our students.’