To The Cooking School at Dean Clough – well actually the Viaduct café on the ground floor, which they’ve just colonized to use as a learning place for the recently inaugurated Apprenticeship Scheme. Executive chef/director Matthew Benson Smith and chef/tutor Paul Johnson have established a year’s course which will result in a City & Guilds Level 2 NVQ in Kitchen Skills. Being a resourceful type, Matthew’s inveigled a number of local eateries to commit to taking a finite number of them into their kitchens (step forward Lee Marshall at the Design House, Simon Shaw from El Gato Negro and Paul Cunliffe at Harvey Nicks).
The great and the good are gathered in the cool, stylish café and before long a series of fabulous canapés come out of the kitchen (made by said apprentices, of course) including a shot of velvety, peppery pumpkin soup, a mini-Caesar salad and a tiny tart with local cheese, so good I spent some time attempting eye contact with waiting staff moving amongst us.
A couple of glasses of wine and a short but passionate address from Matthew later I made a mental note to return. It’s got a good feeling, so go along, lend your support – and have a cracking lunch at the same time. As he says ‘we know that these young people have a lot to offer the catering and hospitality industry and this is a fantastic chance to learn the ropes in a busy environment with a loyal customer base. We expect to update the menu with fresh, locally sourced ingredients whilst still offering the option that we know our customers love.’
What’s not to like?