The fine art of sugar crafting has been highly respected for centuries, ornate edible delicacies can be traced back to the British Tudor period; whilst in the Far East; Japanese ‘Wagashi’ – edible fruit shaped treats – were popular with ancient dynasties. Level 3 Catering students were lucky enough to receive a tutorial in the art of sugar sculpting from one of region’s finest chefs, Mike Aldridge. Renowned chefs from NECTA visited TyneMet to share their knowledge and pass on cooking skills - aimed at testing a chef’s ability whilst inspiring learning. Students had the chance to indulge their creative side with sugar crafting workshops (often referred to as ‘pastillage’) and explore an array of fundamental cookery lessons to prepare budding chefs for the 2015 NECTA competition.

NECTA’s Vice Chairman, Dave Dawson said: “As a past student almost 30 years ago, I learnt my bread and butter here at TyneMet. I’ve watched the industry transform – the catering industry is currently booming, there is a wide range of fabulous opportunities for aspiring chefs to showcase their skills - today is about fine tuning those skills and benchmarking ability.”

Students were tasked with a range of workshops including preparing chickens for roasting  - Mike Aldridge, NECTA Committee member said: “Today is all about coaching students with the skills that Judges will be looking for at this year’s NECTA competition – the fundamental basics of cooking should never be overlooked.”

The NECTA competition aims to promote culinary service and excellence and is the most prestigious competition in the North East.  Catering students from across the region will compete on the 6th May in front of the catering industry’s finest chefs - winning dishes will take pride of place on the menu at Jesmond Dene House and the winner will be awarded a work placement at the award winning restaurant.”

Lynn Mitchinson, Catering Tutor at TyneMet College, said: “We’re very honoured to have some of the North East’s most talented chefs here today at TyneMet –  Mike’s workshops have been an ideal opportunity to learn cooking tips at an advanced level and the competition is an excellent starting point for our catering students to showcase skills at a professional level.”

The NECTA Competition is an open event to the public – for your chance to watch who will be crowned ‘North East England CHEF of the Year’, book your place online at