The world class chefs Sean Collins from Accor Hotels, Selvana Chelvanaigum from William Angliss Institute and Volker Marecek from The Langham, Auckland who volunteered to lecture and train the students of the Empower Culinary Training Centre of the Merrill J. Fernando Charitable Foundation completed their week long culinary adventures with the students, inspiring these young culinary hopefuls to succeed in their path ahead.
The chefs' visit coincided with the special celebrations - the 'First Decade of MJF Kids' organised at the MJF Centre for Dignified and Sustainable Empowerment in Moratuwa to mark the successful completion of a decade long inspirational journey of nurturing and empowering the MJF Kids, and as a result, our culinary students had the rare opportunity to team up with the world class chefs; humble and fun - loving; to carry out the culinary arrangements in the run up to the big event. Accordingly, they undertook the challenge to assist the chefs to prepare lunch and High Tea for 400 odd children who attended the celebrations. While it was a novel experience for the culinary batch to have cooked with international chefs and to have met with their expectations, savoring the delicious High Tea prepared and served by these chefs turned out to be rare treat for the children who attended the celebrations held at our Moratuwa Centre.
During the course of the week, the culinary students gained insights into essentials in food preparation, the art of garnishing a plate suitable for fine dining, presentation, storing and handling tips, ingredients and temperature requirements etc., while attending the lectures conducted by the celebrity chefs to impart their valuable knowledge.

Spending quality time with the chefs, students were able to stay motivated and engaged with various fun learning activities - from accompanying the chefs to the Dilmah Conservation garden to pick up the garlic flowers for the dishes they prepared, to observing the creativity and the great deal of effort that goes into arranging and presenting the dishes.

Speaking about her experience, chef Selvana said she is proud to have been a part of the volunteer tour, to have shown these young chefs different techniques and to have made them more "passionate" about their culinary adventures. Adding that she is hopeful that this would be the beginning of many more future tea and culinary adventures, Selvana said that, from spending time in the culinary kitchen with the kids to playing with them and seeing the smiles on their faces, she enjoyed everything she experienced during her stay.

Sharing similar sentiments chef Sean said: "To be a chef is to be an ambassador for food. This is a brilliant initiative that the MJF Foundation has come up with to give these kids the skills and knowledge, to build these ambassadors and to do so on a global scale. It's been a pleasure to come over here and impart my knowledge and share my experience with them. I wish these aspiring chefs all the best in future. I look forward to working with them somewhere in the world in the years to come."

Chef Volker who shared his inspirational experience working with the kids had a message for the Kiwi chefs. "We had a great time here, it was amazing. Come down to Sri Lanka; teach these kids like Selvana, Sean and myself coming down here to help the kids. You can see how simple things can bring a smile on their faces," he said.

MJFCF's Empower Culinary Training Centre has the objective of creating new avenues for disadvantaged youth through culinary education. With classroom sessions and practicals in the Centre's state of the art culinary kitchen, conducted by the culinary professionals attached to the centre as well as world class chefs who come down to share their expertise from time to time, the students receive a wholesome training experience which in turn would enable them tap into exciting opportunities in the field of gastronomy and hospitality industry of Sri Lanka.

Please Click Here to Read More About Empower Culinary Training Centre

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