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The Sheffield College

Foodie Expert Inspires Next Generation of Chefs

Updated: 08/12/2015

His school friends dreamed of becoming astronauts or footballers but Joseph Hunt knew from a young age that he wanted to become a chef.

Foodie Expert Inspires Next Generation of Chefs

Pictured: Joseph Hunt, Production Chef, and Shelley Kirk, Restaurant Trainer, at The Sheffield College’s Sparks Restaurant.

His school friends dreamed of becoming astronauts or footballers but Joseph Hunt knew from a young age that he wanted to become a chef. 

The 30-year-old has just been appointed as Production Chef of The Sheffield College’s Sparks Restaurant, which offers high quality cuisine to the public whilst training the next generation of catering and hospitality students in the skills that the industry needs.

“Food is a massive part of my life and always has been,” said Joseph, who started his new post at the College this term. “I’ve early memories of sitting around a huge table with 20 family and friends all laughing and eating. That sense of social ritual is so important to me. The kids at primary school wanted to be footballers or astronauts but I knew I wanted to be a chef and cook all day."

Sparks Restaurant has a strong reputation for its food, value and service. The 60-seater training restaurant is open five lunchtimes and three evenings a week, and provides meals created by catering students under the supervision of experienced staff.

Shelley Kirk has also just joined Sparks Restaurant as Restaurant Trainer, following a successful career with British Airways as one of their air cabin crew at Heathrow Airport, travelling the world. She said: “It was a great job where I developed customer service skills. One of the highlights was meeting the actor George Clooney. I am keen to share everything that I have learned to give students a flying start in the industry.”

Sparks restaurant is based in the £1.2 million catering wing at City campus, Granville Road, one of the best purpose built further education colleges and vocational training facilities in the north. It has a video link screen so that diners can watch the trainee chefs preparing their food in the kitchen.

The restaurant regularly runs themed food evenings and has a diners club. Themed courses are also available. This month, the catering team is running a one-day Making Christmas Dinner Easy course on December 15th. For more information and to book your place, email info@sheffcol.ac.uk. Call 0114 2602600 or click here for more information.

Prior to joining the College, Joseph notched up industry experience at the famous and award-winning, River Cottage in Devon. He worked alongside chefs there and ran cookery courses. He originally trained at High Peak College and set up his own brasserie at the age of 19 that he ran for three years.

Joseph added: “I wanted to get in to teaching and be part of shaping the future generations of chefs. When the opportunity to join the College came up, I was really pleased. It has such a good reputation in the industry, and is very well respected. The facilities are also great, and Sparks Restaurant is well thought of. We have many regulars who enjoy our high quality food that is also value for money."

The Sheffield College has a long tradition of delivering catering courses, has a national reputation and strong connections to industry. It was the first further education college to be invited to join the Master Chefs of Great Britain. Three staff are members: Mick Burke, who is one of only two Fellows in the UK, Len Unwin and Neil Taylor.

The College is also a popular venue for the hosting of prestigious regional and national competition finals, which include the industry acclaimed Skills for Chefs that attracts the country’s leading culinary experts.

Students train in industry standard facilities. They comprise six training kitchens including a bakery and patisserie. Special features include bread retarders and prover ovens, six walk in fridges, blast freezers, top of the range ovens, a sous vide cooking bath, a smoking machine for fish, and an ice cream machines.

Heather Smith, Principal, The Sheffield College, said: “Sparks Restaurant provides our students, who go on to employment in hotels and restaurants nationally and globally, with a brilliant opportunity to sharpen their skills in a realistic working environment and guided by expert staff. I am delighted to welcome Joseph and Shelley to our team.”