TWO STUDENTS at a college in Reading were given the opportunity to cook alongside chef Raymond Blanc OBE during the Royal Ascot event. 

Holly and Emma both study professional culinary arts at Reading College, Kings Road, and were hand-picked to work with the Two Michelin-Star chef.

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Mr Blanc is the culinary consultant to Ascot Racecourse and have been working with them for over five years. His restaurant, The Panoramic, is regarded as one of the most elite in the whole of Royal Ascot.

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Emma said: “Working with Raymond Blanc was an absolute dream come true, I've always looked up to him, so it was amazing.

"His presence was so calming, and he was so passionate about getting Holly and I stuck into working with him and his team.  

“During the service, I was part of plating and preparing a starter and the dessert, which was crab and fennel salad and a strawberry parfait ice cream. 

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“One of the main things I learnt in the kitchen is what the process of fine dining looks like from a kitchen point of view, but we were constantly being fed knowledge from chef which was really helpful.  

“This event has opened my mind to more options, such as working within fine dining.

"My next step is to continue working at events with Raymond and his team, with the next event being The RHS Chelsea Flower Show!”  

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Raymond Blanc OBE said, "It was wonderful to have Emma and Holly with us during Royal Ascot and for them to truly experience what it is like to operate a kitchen at the highest level of gastronomy at the racecourse.  

“All of my life, I have nurtured young talent for the industry, and I strongly believe that giving them the opportunity to use their skills in a hands-on setting will give them confidence and knowledge, but also an insight to understand what they are working towards.”  

Simon Genduso, Professional Cookery Lecturer at Activate Learning, said: “This is a fantastic start to their careers, and I’m really pleased for Holly and Emma.

"To work with and meet Raymond Blanc is very exciting and I hope that they both go on to have fantastic careers, along with all of my students.

“I also want to say a big thank you to 1711, for providing fantastic work experience placements for my students and for looking after them so well. 

“We’re looking forward to working with them next year to expand the opportunities to students from City of Oxford College. 

“The COVID-19 pandemic has been difficult for those working in the hospitality industry, but going forward, we’re hoping to do more.”