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Masterchefs of Great Britain give skills masterclass to Cumbrian students

Aspiring youngsters seeking to forge a career in the hospitality and catering industry have been treated to a masterclass from two leading UK chefs.

Students from the English Lakes Hotels Culinary Academy and Kendal College came together to learn from award winning chocolatier Shona Sutherland and renowned local pastry chef Al Strong.

Delivered in partnership with the Masterchefs of Great Britain, the training day included demonstrations on chocolate making skills and techniques, and the creation of a pastry based dessert.

Shona Sutherland showed the group of 27 students how to create a multi-layered snack bar and demonstrated the intricacies of cocoa butter decoration and colouring of moulds.  In the second masterclass, Al Strong led an interactive session with the group to teach them how to make one of his signature desserts: the chocolate and blackcurrant Nomadic Pastry.

The group also learned about new industry insights and career development opportunities during a talk from the Chairman of the Masterchefs of Great Britain, George McIvor, a former CIS Development Chef of the Year.  The event was sponsored by Caterite and Bidfood UK and featured additional showcases from industry experts and suppliers.

Daniel Winstanley from English Lakes Hotels Resorts & Venues says: “This was a highly valuable educational event for the students and our thanks are due to all the masterchefs for giving up their time to make it all happen and help accelerate our trainees’ career development.

“Shona, Al and George all have a wealth of experience in the food and hospitality industries, both in the UK and in international markets, so it was really useful for the youngsters to have time with them.”

The English Lakes Hotels Resorts & Venues Culinary Academy offers trainees a two year apprenticeship, with students training to attain Level 2 and Level 3 NVQ qualifications.  The fully accredited course allows the students to hone chef skills whilst earning a wage with the hotel group.  To find out more about available jobs, visit

Shona Sutherland is head chef and owner of Perthshire based chocolate making and patisserie training company Taystful.  She has competed in the Culinary World Cup, winning an individual bronze medal in 2018 for her chocolate showpiece.  She has also competed as pastry chef for the Scotland team at the Culinary Olympics, with the team picking up two silver medals.

Al Strong established Nomadic Pastry from its Kendal base in 2020.  He previously ran Macarons, taking the business from a market stall to a full retail and kitchen unit with a high turnover and popular wedding business.  He trained at Kendal College and has previously worked for the Samling Hotel in Windermere and Linthwaite House Hotel.  He worked in New Zealand through the Bob McGhie Award, with a focus on local produce and zero waste.