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College students work with top UK chefs for Alder Hey charity fundraiser

World-renowned chef, James Holden, recently returned to St Helens College’s fine dining restaurant, Colours Restaurant, to host a charity fundraising dinner, which raised over £4,000 for Alder Hey Children’s Charity.

Catering and Hospitality students worked alongside James and four other top UK chefs; Adam Reid, Ellis Barrie, Chris Rawlinson, and Matt Hagan, many of whom have appeared on BBC’s Great British Menu, to create a spectacular four-course dining experience.

James has a special relationship with Alder Hey Hospital. His grandson, Bobby, was born with Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome, a condition that required round the clock care.
James held his first fundraising dinner back in 2021 at Colours Restaurant, and following the success of the last event, returned once again to raise money to support the amazing work Alder Hey do.

Executive Chef at Manchester Convention Centre, Matt Hagan, launched the event with a drinks and canapé reception, followed by a welcome speech from Alder Hey’s Children’s Charity’s Community Fundraiser, Sarah Bennett. Sarah explained that the funds raised will contribute to building a brand new surgical neonatal unit at the hospital.

Following the drinks reception, guests were treated to a delicious confit duck suet pudding appetiser, provided by Chris Rawlinson, Chef Patron of The Royal Oak at Riley Green and The Pickled Goose in Garstang.

Ellis Barrie, proprietor of Lerpwl Restaurant and Great British Menu contestant in 2012 and 2013, created an exciting intermediate course – mussel cawl with slow braised lamb breast, dill and locally grown lovage.
Chef, James Holden’s main course was a mouth-watering featherblade of beef served with creamed potato, roasted onion, winter roots and salted kale.

Adam Reid, Great British Menu contestant from 2016 and 2019 and Chef Patron at The French at The Midland Hotel rounded off the evening with a baked egg custard dessert, with a prune compôte and pink lady apple sorbet, a popular choice from his menu at The French.

Following a successful second event, James said: “This event was special to me in many ways. First and foremost, it is my family’s way of thanking Alder Hey for not only tending to my young grandson, but also for caring for my 9-year-old granddaughter regularly, and for other children in our family over the years.”

He added: “The event would not be possible without the College’s support, so we thank them immensely, but also the industry professionals who gladly give up their time to work with me in the kitchen and front of house doing the service. The time spent with the students during preparation, cooking and serving of the dinner is such an experience for the students to gain knowledge and skills on top of what they are taught by the fantastic team of tutors, all of whom welcome us willingly and support us during the planning and delivery of this event.

I must commend all the students for their enthusiasm and commitment to this event, clearly visible to the professionals who worked with me, as a lot have been offered opportunities to go work in the guest chefs’ establishments! An added bonus for me was that three of the four guest chefs we had in the kitchen, were all young apprentices of mine many years ago, and to have them working alongside me for this was a proud moment!”

Head of Catering and Hospitality at St Helens College, Jen McGill, said: “It was a privilege to welcome James back for his fundraising event. Thank you to James and all our other guest chefs for their hard work and for inspiring our students!”