Celebrating Asian culture and food: WestKing-style

Westminster Kingsway College hosted ‘A Taste of ASEAN’ – a celebration of South-East Asian culture and food – at our Victoria Centre on Wednesday 30 October.

In all, 10 member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) were represented: Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. Over 200 guests were treated to musical and dance performances from ASEAN nations and a selection of delicious Asian dishes that were devised, cooked and served by our culinary students – ably supported by their chef lecturers.

Among the guests were Ambassadors and Heads of Mission from many countries, staff and friends from the ASEAN nations, and staff from the UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) including Heather Wheeler MP, the UK’s Minister of State for Asia and the Pacific.

Chef Lecturer, Jose Souto, with Heather Wheeler MP

The evening came about following our successful Thai Food Week earlier this year, and the college worked closely with Thailand’s Ambassador to the UK, His Excellency Mr Pisanu Suvanajata, and his staff to devise and put on last night’s event. We are very grateful to His Excellency, his staff and everyone else who helped us make the event such a success.

ASEAN promotes co-operation on political, security and economic issues in South-East Asia. With a rapidly expanding middle class and a market of 650 million people, the UK will be looking to strengthen links with this part of the world across a range of issues, including education, trade, economic reform, climate, cybersecurity, defence and the digital economy.

As Jose Souto, Chef Lecturer at the college, who was closely involved in the event said: “We are arguably the leading culinary school in the UK. Our expertise and contacts, plus the fact that we’re part of Capital City College Group – one of the UK’s biggest college groups – means that Westminster Kingsway College can play a really useful role in showcasing the best of British culinary expertise and enabling other countries to learn fork our experiences. It also gives our students amazing exposure to new cultures and their cuisines, which can only be good for their culinary CVs and their future employability.

“When we first worked with the Thailand Embassy in the run-up to our Thai Food Week, we really wanted our students to understand much more about Thailand’s culture, as well as being able to cook high-quality Thai food. We are very grateful to His Excellency and his staff for his valuable time in helping us to do that.

As well as being very enjoyable, the event was hard work for a lot of people, so we’d also like to thank all the staff and students who created the amazing food that was served to our guests. In particular, lecturers Chris Basten and Norman Fu, and their team of students in the kitchen who mastered and cooked the dishes from 10 different Asian countries; patisserie & bakery lecturer Sue Yeates and her students who prepared the wonderful desserts; Janos Virovecz, our hospitality lecturer and his student servers, who made sure that everyone was kept fed; and Simon Stocker and his students, who ran another successful evening service in our Escoffier Room fine dining restaurant – while the Taste of ASEAN event went on next door. It was a pleasure to host this event and we hope to see you all again soon.”

The 10 ASEAN nations all displayed their country’s cultural items at the event

This unique event was held at our Victoria Centre, where Hospitality and Culinary students learn their craft from our team of chef lecturers. Students work on, and at, events as part of their courses, gaining vital experience which they will need to help them secure good quality jobs when they leave college. It’s one of the many reasons why every year so many young Londoners choose WestKing to study hospitality and culinary arts.

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