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The event, staged in the Academy Restaurant on the Belfast campus, celebrates the cultural diversity that characterises our contemporary hospitality scene

Ulster University, in partnership with the Oxford Cultural Collective, tonight staged a Culinary Salon: a series of dinners hosted by some of the UK and Ireland’s most acclaimed and admired chefs and food writers. The events, which are staged in the Academy Restaurant at the Belfast campus, celebrate the cultural diversity that characterises our contemporary hospitality scene and this sold out event with Andi Oliver is the 8th in the series.

This creative initiative has been made possible through a generous funding grant from the Savoy Educational Trust to support hospitality education at Ulster University.

Andi Oliver is one of the UK’s most well-known and best loved broadcasters: she is host of the BBC’s Great British Menu, a lead presenter on Food Unwrapped, a regular contributor to the BBC’s Saturday Kitchen Live and is host of Sky Arts Book Club. Her culinary credentials are equally as impressive - for four years she ran a successful ephemeral restaurant, The Moveable Feast. After being creative director of The Birdcage pub on London’s Colombia road, she launched her own restaurant at The Jackdaw and Star. She opened her award-winning restaurant, Andi’s, in 2016, and in 2020 created her newest food project entitled Wadadli Kitchen, through which she celebrates real Caribbean home cooking.

Under Andi’s expert supervision and guidance, Ulster University Hospitality and Culinary Arts Management students will be among the first to cook a four course menu with dishes taken from Andi’s first book, out just this week: The Pepperpot Diaries: Stories from My Caribbean Table. The menu is a true marriage of cultures - local Northern Irish ingredients from local suppliers such as Picked Organic, Carnbrooke Meats, Ewing’s Seafood, Jubilee Farm, Lough Neagh Fishermen's Co-operative and Broighter Gold being used to create Andi's signature Caribbean dishes.

Andi is keen that students should consider the story of Caribbean food - how cultural influences, history and heritage have shaped traditional and contemporary Caribbean cuisine. Working with Ulster University's hospitality and culinary arts management students, Andi will reinforce her belief that education in this field should include a strong cultural dimension.

As well as delivering unique and memorable learning experiences for students, reflecting the cultural diversity that characterises modern hospitality, this dinner series has become a popular foodie fixture in Belfast’s cultural calendar. Previous Culinary Salon dinner hosts have included Romy Gill MBE, Indian-British chef, author and broadcaster, Jeremy Lee, Chef-Proprietor of Quo Vadis in London, Yasmin Khan, food writer and human rights activist and Felicity Cloake, Guardian food writer and author.

Sophie McKenzie, first year International Hospitality Management student from Belfast:

“I grew up watching Great British Menu with my granny and now I’m so excited to be working with Andi who is a real inspiration to me. Its been so exciting and an amazing experience to learn from her over the last few days in the preparation for the Culinary Salon and I’m really proud that she’ll be directing our team as we do front of house tonight at Academy Restaurant.”

Located in a prime site in Belfast city-centre, Academy incorporates a state-of-the-art restaurant, culinary school, wine school and conference and meeting facilities. Its primary purpose is to deliver distinctive, experiential learning for on-campus students, so as to enhance their skills and better prepare them for entrepreneurial, management and leadership careers in the international hospitality industry.

As well as the Culinary Salon, the grant from the Savoy Educational Trust is supporting and enabling specific learning activities, over five years:

  • Field trips -in line with the University’s commitment to ‘immersive’ learning, first year students undertake field trips to explore Northern Ireland’s rich culinary culture. They meet notable farmers, producers and chefs who are building Northern Ireland’s reputation as a leading food and drink destination. The students gain valuable insights into the power of local food systems to deliver economic, cultural and social benefits to local communities.
  • Peer mentoring - to further embed a mentoring culture, and to ensure students feel part of a supportive educational community, more experienced students offer one-to-one support to those at early stages in their degree programmes. All participants receive formal support to ensure they get maximum benefit from the experience.

Commenting on the Savoy Educational Trust’s support, Professor Ioannis S. Pantelidis, Head of Ulster University’s Department of Hospitality and Tourism Management:

“Securing this grant from the UK's leading charity supporting hospitality education, has been such a great boost and has enabled us to welcome leading chefs and culinary experts from across the UK and Ireland to our Academy for our Culinary Salon series. Each invited colleague is well-known and respected for their talents and distinctive contributions to our shared culinary culture. Their input helps us deliver experiences that truly inspire and enrich students’ learning experience, fuel their passion for hospitality and gastronomy, and help them recognise and realise their potential.”

Angela Maher, Chief Executive of The Savoy Educational Trust said:

"We are really happy to be supporting such an innovative learning experience for Ulster University students. We are constantly considering how to enhance the appeal of hospitality education. What could be better than having students work alongside internationally respected chefs and food writers who share insights into their own careers and to the diverse cultures they represent. Ulster University is creating memorable experiences for students, which will live with them for years to come, broadening their horizons and fuelling their commitment to careers in hospitality."

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