The prestigious Blueprint Café, situated close to Tower Bridge on the River Thames, is preparing itself for a total student takeover on Wednesday 6 March. This ambitious initiative will see 20 hospitality and catering students based at London South East Colleges’ BR6 Restaurant and Bakehouse in Orpington, work alongside the café’s Head Chef Joseph Albina and General Manager Carla Amaro for a day shift of normal business.
Blueprint is a high-end, central London restaurant serving the best of British cuisine. Their menus use only fresh and seasonal British ingredients carefully sourced from local farms and suppliers in the British Isles. It offers its customers a bright and airy luxury space complete with stunning views panning from Tower Bridge to Canary Wharf. It is one of over 40 restaurants and cafes owned by parent company D&D Restaurants. They currently have fine dining establishments as far afield as Leeds, Manchester and even New York City.
Catering for a wide range of customers and corporate clients, Blueprint Café will test our students to the max and has entrusted them to uphold their very high standards of service and customer experience. For the students, it is the challenge of a lifetime.
Jaimie Stewart is D&D’s Head of Learning and Development and greeted the students on Wednesday 13 February to discuss the operation. He gave them a tour of the kitchens and main dining area and made clear the café’s expectations, rules and regulations, as well as their health and safety procedures.
Talking to the students, Jaimie said: “We are delighted that you have taken up this very exciting challenge and we will work with you to make sure you all benefit from what will be an amazing experience. You are invited to create the whole lunchtime and afternoon menu. Some of you will be working with our chef in the kitchens, some will work front of house and some will run the bar.
“D&D is serious about offering young people the opportunity to gain work experience at the very top of this profession and allow you to be creative and to showcase what you can do. Obviously, our experts will support and guide you throughout the day but their expectations will be high. Good luck.”
Student Livvy Taylor, 18 from Lee Green will be working in the kitchens during the day and is preparing herself for a long but illuminating shift. She said: “We have been planning and working towards the takeover since the beginning of term and we are all very excited. I knew when I first came to the College that I would be put through my paces and exposed to real working environments from the very beginning. Next month will be the moment of truth and will test everything we have learned so far. Thank goodness we have great tutors; their confidence and belief in us mean we have the confidence to succeed at just about everything. I can’t wait!”
Fellow student, Billy Bingham, 17 from Sidcup has just been accepted as an apprentice front of house assistant at the Intercontinental Hotel in Greenwich and will be receiving a taste of what is ahead during the takeover. He said: “Along with everyone else in my group, I’m relishing this challenge and simply cannot wait to arrive for the day’s work next month. This is what all of my training and hard work has been about and I am ready and raring to go. Bring it on!”
Head of the Hospitality, Food and Enterprise College, Tania Summer and her team of expert tutors are now working with the students to plan a suitable menu for the challenge. She said: “This really is huge. The students are relishing the takeover and I’ve noticed a big change in them since D&D invited them to take part. An experience like this is so valuable and we are lucky to be situated so close to London’s booming hospitality sector. I’d like to thank everybody at the Blueprint Café for stepping up and offering to give our students this chance. I know it will be a great success.”