Weymouth College has joined forces with celebrated chef Mark Hix, to train the next generation of chefs and restaurant staff, in an innovative new facility known as the HIX Academy, which has just been completed.
This ground-breaking partnership is centred on a newly created fully commercial restaurant and cocktail bar, run by apprentices and supported by Mark Hix and professional HIX Academy Staff.
Up to 65 guests can dine in elegant and fashionable surroundings, or enjoy a drink at the stunning statement cocktail bar ‘Mark’s.’ The venue provides the ideal ‘hands-on’ environment where trainees can learn to achieve the skills and the high standards needed for a career in the catering industry.
The new restaurant and bar was created within an existing college restaurant and has been designed by Mark Hix himself, replicating the style and flavour of his top London restaurants at the college’s Cranford Avenue site.
The project was carried out by main contractors Tekne, who were commended for doing a “fantastic job” by Mark Hix.
“I’ve always worked with colleges, and actually trained at Weymouth College, so I wanted to give something back,” he commented to Premier Hospitality. “The end game is that when students have completed their training, they will be fully equipped to go straight into the industry.”
He is delighted to be going back to his roots:
“I’m really excited by the opportunity to discover and develop young talent. I was particularly inspired by my college lecturer when I studied at Weymouth College, so I’m hoping this restaurant will do the same for others.”
The original college restaurant has undergone a dramatic transformation and now incorporates a stunning restaurant with central wine room, a semi-open kitchen with cold ‘starter’ section where diners can see food being prepared, and a horseshoe-shaped pewter topped bar with mirrored shelves and adjacent seating area – all complemented by stylish red leather banquette seating and artworks by students from the college arts department.
“Today the drinks business is as profitable as the food in restaurants, so I thought it crucial that students should learn how to be good bartenders and to make good coffee too. The menu is quite international including asian, italian, french and english elements and is based on using seasonal local ingredients,” added Mark.
Not only will trainees including chefs, waiting staff, bartenders, front of house staff and restaurateurs, be able to learn the skills that the UK’s leading restaurant owners and managers demand, but on completion they will also have either a Level 1 NVQ, Level 2 NVQ or Level 3 diploma.
Liz Myles, Principal of Weymouth College, added:
“We’re thrilled to be working with Mark to train the region’s future generation of talented restaurateurs, chefs and waiters. This is much more than a name-only partnership. Mark is heavily involved in every aspect of the project from the course structure to the menu, right through to the restaurant design, so students can expect to learn from the very best. The involvement of Mark and his team alongside passionate college teaching staff will inspire students to achieve excellence.”