Young chefs join Café 1901

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Newly qualified chefs Josh Gray (left) and Harry Douglas at Cafe 1901

Two newly qualified chefs have secured work at a North East cafe run by another former Gateshead College student who’s passionate about nurturing young talent.

Harry Douglas, 19, joins Café 1901 after being recommended by 24-year-old Josh Gray, the pair both trained at Gateshead College, learning under the professional catering team and perfecting their skills in the college’s contemporary onsite restaurant, Enfields Kitchen.

Harry, who recently completed his college training, was offered the chef role at Café 1901 in Jesmond by owner Mandeep Walia following a work placement.

Mandeep, who also owns and runs Café 1901 in Gosforth and Manors, studied on the same Gateshead College catering course as Harry and Josh, qualifying in 2014. Now a successful business owner, she’s determined her supply chain remains local and also focuses on employing young, local team members too.

Harry graduated from a Level 3 catering and hospitality course at Gateshead College where he also gained experience in the kitchens at Marriott Gosforth and 21 Hospitality Group.

He said: “The course provided a great learning experience. It was so hands-on and I managed to secure some excellent work placements which really helped me to understand what being a chef involved and, in turn, gave me the confidence to secure a job once I had qualified.

“My course tutor Alistair had a huge influence on my development and the combination of classroom learning and practical experience I gained has definitely equipped me with the work ready skills I need to handle the busy, high stress environment that chefs often work within. I’m already feeling part of the Café 1901 team.”

Mandeep has focused on each of her café’s becoming an integral part of their local community, offering a place for people young and old to come together and catch up over locally sourced, homemade food and beverages.

She said: “Café 1901 sits at the heart of the local communities it serves and it’s important that we offer opportunities to local people too.

“The course I did at Gateshead College equipped me with the work ready skills I needed to dive straight into the food business sector. I know personally how great the quality of teaching and work experience is so hiring graduates from the same course makes complete business sense.

“I also believe everyone deserves a chance at real life work experience, especially those who dedicate time, money and energy into pursuing a career just like Harry and other employees have. We enjoy nurturing and providing opportunities for people, especially if they’ve specifically trained for their role. Everyone needs to start somewhere.”

Despite being in the midst of a pandemic, Café 1901 has managed to remain open throughout the last six months, including spring’s national lockdown, where it provided essential groceries to its local communities at a time when many day-to-day items were scarce.

Navigating through such tough times has enabled Walia to not just sustain the business but also focus on its future growth - something she firmly believes is down to having the right people who hold the same shared values and work ethic.

Alistair Gilchrist, curriculum leader for catering at Gateshead College, said: “It’s great to see the success Mandeep has achieved in starting her own business and then growing it with the support of talented Gateshead College alumni.

“Our focus is to prepare our students for work by equipping them with the experience, skills and attitude that make them sought-after employees. It’s great that Mandeep has turned to her former college to recruit her latest employee. Harry was an excellent student, just like his new boss and colleague Josh, and I am confident he will continue to thrive at Café 1901.”

Mon Oct 26 2020