Foundation: Catering Pathway

Culinary courses for curious cooks developed in partnership with Heston Blumenthal and The Fat Duck Group.

“This is my dream. I’ll decide where it goes from here.”

—Alice; Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

These unique programmes, only available at Activate Learning colleges, are developed in partnership with Heston Blumenthal and the Fat Duck Group to develop and advance your cooking skills.

fat duck group and activate learning logo

Whether you want to work in a professional kitchen, become a world-famous food blogger, critic or food stylist, you’ll will be encouraged to interpret and apply to your own work, traditional cooking techniques and those made famous by Heston Blumenthal.

Heston believes a successful journey through this industry is powered by a strong sense of curiosity, a desire to learn and by receiving instruction that is relevant, authentic, motivating and that sparks imagination. This is aligned with the Activate Learning Philosophy, which is rooted in an understanding of how the brain, motivation and emotions work together to encourage learning.

In each programme, you will use a more experimental and scientific approach in order to develop your cooking skills and senses. Join us on this journey of culinary exploration and discover methods of applying the principles of food science and cooking to new routes and possibilities.

This is a three-year pathway that starts with teaching you the fundamentals of professional cookery right through to advanced techniques practiced in modern restaurants. You will start your progression at Year 1 (Level 1). However, if you have been in the industry for one year or have a relevant professional qualification, it may be possible to start on Year 2 (Level 2) of the course.

What I’ll Learn

Creating a true culinary experience starts and ends in the mind; your skills are simply the tools that will bring that vision to reality.

On this programme, you will learn to prepare and cook food through traditional methods such as boiling, braising, roasting, frying etc. These skills will be vital in building a career in any professional kitchen, anywhere in the world.

However, what sets this programme apart from others is the emphasis we place on the fundamentals of understanding ingredients and exploring their tastes, flavours and fusions. Heston Blumenthal has identified two critical attributes for working in this field: Restless Perfectionism and Creative Curiousity. To find out more about how these attributes can benefit you and how we develop them, click on the links on the right.
Inspired by these critical attributes, you will be provided with a rich variety of learning experiences, including:

  • practical exploration
  • food science experiments
  • work and industry experience
  • customer facing activity
  • employer-led projects

As well as linking with the Fat Duck Group’s expertise, you will benefit from the Activate Learning Attributes curriculum, which will help you develop the key characteristics and skills employers are looking for in potential employees. This will be achieved through one-to-one support sessions.

If you are still working towards gaining GCSEs in English or maths, or if you need help developing your digital skills, we can help with that too.

Our qualified and professional tutors will provide instruction in our industry-standard, fully-equipped kitchens on site.

The focus of this programme is experimenting with flavours and culinary experiences. Exploration, as well as failure, is a key part of learning and you will be encouraged to take risks and given the confidence and support necessary to do so.

Learning for each module will begin with playful exploration of ingredients, flavours and methods and end with self-reflective evaluation. In between, there is guided self-assessment, peer review and formal instruction from tutors.

The cornerstone of this programme is the development of your attributes to ensure at the end of each programme you are highly employable and that you can apply your learning practically. This will entail one-to-one guidance from your tutor and self assessment. Class tutors will manage pair work, group work, placements and visits.

You will have a personal tutor who will observe your progress and work.

There are no formal entry requirements for this programme. A school/college report and an EHCP may be a requirement, based on your support needs. Your suitability for the programme will be determined by our staff after you have attended a taster experience.

We are looking for young people with an enthusiasm to learn and a desire to make progress. We want applicants to actively take part in keep warm activities set by teachers before starting in September

Why Banbury and Bicester College?

  • Clear routes of progression with qualifications ranging from foundation level to degree level!
  • Industry experienced teaching staff give you the responsibility and independence you need to take charge of your own future.
  • 150+

    Courses available

  • 2018

    Rated "good with outstanding areas" by Ofsted in 2018

  • 79+

    years of teaching experience

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