Catering & Hospitality at City College

City CollegeFongtastic Food recently contacted Southampton City College about their Catering & Hospitality course which they offer to school leavers. They kindly put us in touch with one of their upcoming graduates, Kenneth Williams, who spoke to us about the positive experiences he gained from missing out on university in order to learn how to cook some of the best food he had ever tasted in his lifetime.

What is your favourite thing to eat and why?

My all time favourite would would have to be a rack of roast lamb cooked to perfection because there’s nothing like a nice big plate of hardcore protein to end your day. I would of course have some veg with it too though, I don’t think a meal’s a meal without something green!

Do you have a signature dish?

I’ve been told I make the most incredible dauphinoise potatoes but if we’re talking an actual meal, I’d probably say I do a pretty decent beef wellington.

Why are you passionate about food?

I could eat for a family of five so I thought I better get some skills, better learn how to cook because I’ll never be able to afford to eat out enough to make me happy!

In regards to cooking, do you have a role model or someone you look up to?

It’s awfully cheesy but nothing beats your mum’s cooking, so I’d have to say that my mum is massive role model to me. When I didn’t get the GCSE grades I was hoping for, she was the one that sat me down properly and helped me through all the options I had. She encouraged me to try catering because she believed in me and thought I could do well if I put my heart and soul into it.

What have you already learnt from the course and what do you hope to take away from it by the end?

I went in as a complete and utter amateur and I’ve now come out with the confidence to run my own restaurant if I really wanted to. I’ve learnt everything there is to know about food, more than I could’ve ever dreamed. We started off really basic and learned how to cook an egg every way possible and now I’m cooking amazing food that I wouldn’t otherwise be able to. I worry though that my taste buds have become a bit too refined now as I’m pretty critical of how food is prepared and presented. When I ask for medium rare, I expect medium rare!

Why do you think others should attend a cookery school of some sort?

If you love to cook, go do catering. Don’t feel the need to jump through all the traditional academic hoops by going to university to study business or something boring like that. Catering college is the best thing that’s ever happened to me, it’s a lot of hard work but you come out with an actual skill that will get you employed.

After you finish your course, what is your ultimate goal?

I want to run my own restaurant but that unfortunately, is a long way off. I’ll probably start out at the bottom of the kitchen and work my way up. I’d love to cook abroad, somewhere like Italy or Spain because the food over there can be so much more interesting.

To learn more about City College‘s Catering & Hospitality course, please click here.

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Trago Lounge

(L-R) Falafels with red onion and coriander yoghurt dip, hummus with extra virgin olive oil and smoked paprika, crayfish and prawns with tomato and chilli, honey glaze shredded 5 spice pork, roasted sweet potato and butternut squash with goats' cheese.

(L-R) Falafels with red onion and coriander yoghurt dip, hummus with extra virgin olive oil and smoked paprika, crayfish and prawns with tomato and chilli, garlic and parsley mushrooms with smoked paprika, honey glazed shredded 5 spice pork, roasted sweet potato and butternut squash with goats’ cheese.

Trago Lounge is just one part of a large chain of cafés/bars called ‘The Lounges‘. It is the ideal place for an impromptu, upmarket meal, without having to go through all of the fuss of making a reservation, having someone constantly waiting on you and then worrying about who’s turn it is to pay the bill.

The restaurant reminds me of a smart, but friendly, gastropub with its classic leather and solid wood furniture. Just enough character has been splashed across the room to make it interesting and individual, I especially like the vintage wall hangings and large blackboard-style menus.

Opting for their signature tapas (a choice of 3 for for just £7.95), I hesitantly waited for it to arrive at my table after I was left incredibly disappointed when I first tried it on a trip to Seville, Spain, last year.

Fortunately, the UK’s take on the traditional Spanish cuisine seemed to do the trick. The six mini dishes arrived at the table looking vibrant as ever and were served with a nice helping of ciabatta bread.

On to the critique. I definitely enjoyed the hummus, pork, and mushrooms but I wasn’t too keen on the falafel or the crayfish (I’m undecided as to whether or not I liked the roasted veg because I think it could’ve done with a little bit longer in the oven!). The shredded pork was my favourite, it was beautifully tender and melted in the mouth, and you can never go wrong with garlic mushrooms. The tomato and chilli sadly overpowered the seafood and you couldn’t taste the subtle flavours of the crayfish at all and the falafel is just plain difficult to perfect so I’m sure I can find it in my heart to forgive them for that minor dry blunder.

All in all though, I honestly think the Lounge has one of the best atmospheres I’ve ever had the pleasure to eat in, and the food was delicious considering how affordable it was. I will definitely be making another visit sometime soon and you should too!

The Verdict:

  • Food: 7/10
  • Service: 7/10
  • Atmosphere: 10/10
  • Value: 8.5/10
  • Overall: 8.1/10

Did you enjoy your last visit to one of the Lounges? Tweet your feedback @TheLoungers