Winners of hit TV baking show share their expertise with college learners in culinary masterclass

Two professional pastry chefs who were crowned the winners of a hit TV baking show, have returned to their former college to share their culinary expertise.

Michael Coggan and Andrew Minto, who both worked as pastry chefs for Cardiff Bay’s Gin and Bake, beat some of the country’s top professionals in the industry to win Channel 4’s Bake Off: The Professionals.

After being announced the best patisserie team in the country, both chefs have chosen to come back to the college where they started their impressive careers to pass on their skills and knowledge to budding chefs at Coleg y Cymoedd.

The duo joined actor and singer, Wynne Evans, for the official launch of the college’s new Colliery 19 restaurant and training facility in Rhondda, with Mr Evans marking the grand opening with a ribbon cutting service alongside staff, learners and members of the wider community.

As part of the celebration, Michael and Andrew taught learners from the Level 3 Patisserie and Confectionary course all about creating Bake Off winning worthy desserts. The chefs taught techniques on how to create showstopping desserts and centrepieces, from tempering chocolate to creating decorative garnishes.

With Coleg y Cymoedd’s new Colliery 19 restaurant now open to the general public every Monday evening and Thursday lunchtime, guests can sample these creations as part of the menu freshly cooked and served by the college’s hospitality and catering learners.

Michael said: “Coming back to my old college and the local community I grew up in after being crowned the best patisserie team in the country is an amazing feeling.

“We want nothing more than to pass on the skills and knowledge we’ve gained to young aspiring chefs and patisserie makers at the place where we started our own culinary journey.”

After completing their qualification in Professional Cookery at Coleg y Cymoedd, Michael and Andrew went on to work in a string of five-star establishments, including Gleneagles in Scotland and St David’s Hotel in Cardiff, before joining Gin and Bake. Michael and Andrew now work as Head Pastry Chefs in Pettigrew Bakery and Gin and Bake respectively.

Andrew added: “We hope that our masterclass encourages learners at the college to feel motivated and inspired to keep on pursuing their own ambitions in the field.

“We’d like to return to the campus again in the future and continue to share our skills and expertise with the future generation of pastry chefs and professional bakers in South Wales.”

As the hospitality industry is currently facing challenges in recruitment and demand for skilled staff, the masterclass with the two chefs, alongside the opening of the new Colliery 19 restaurant and commercial culinary training facility, forms part of the college’s dedication to provide its learners with hands on skills and experience to prepare them for a career in industry.

In a nod to the region’s mining history, the restaurant at Coleg y Cymoedd’s Rhondda campus features coal mine inspired décor with a modern twist. All food will be prepared and served by learners studying all levels of catering courses, from introductory to advanced qualifications, under the guidance of professional chefs and front of house staff.

Gethin Thomas, Patisserie and Confectionary learner at the college, said: “I really appreciate being given the opportunity to take part in a masterclass from professionals in the field, especially from successful chefs who also made their start at the college.

“The skills and knowledge they’ve taught us as well as the hands on work experience from the Colliery 19 restaurant and training facility will be invaluable when I begin my own career in the industry.”

Tracey Evans, Head of School of Hair, Beauty, Hospitality and Catering at the college said: “Having Andrew and Michael come back to the college to teach industry-level patisserie skills is an incredible experience for our learners.

“We hope that these masterclass sessions will further help learners to feel ready to take on a role in the industry and excel in their careers.”

Celebrating new community learning investments at the Rhondda campus

In the past year, the college has been hard at work at the Rhondda campus to develop a variety of new facilities and provisions to enrich learning experiences.

Over £4m of community learning investments, which are part-funded by Welsh Government’s 21st Century Schools and Colleges Programme, form part of the college’s plans to continually invest in new facilities and equipment that will allow learners across its catchment area to have access to the latest training opportunities and career paths. 

On Wednesday 17 November, we celebrated the completion of our new campus facilities and the opportunities created for the college community.

The event invited learners, staff, and guests from the wider Rhondda community to discover how the new investments are helping to continue Coleg y Cymoedd’s commitment in creating a ‘true community college’, which includes the creation of new partnerships formed with local community groups.

In addition to presentations delivered by the Principal Karen Phillips and Deputy Principal Jonathan Morgan, guests were invited to join a tour of the campus, followed by a lunch cooked and served by the college’s catering learners at the recently opened Colliery 19 restaurant.

Carolyn Donegan, Director of Learner and Campus Services at Coleg y Cymoedd’s Rhondda campus, said: “The journey from planning to developing the new facilities has not been easy with many hurdles along the way.

“With the major facilities now completed, we’re overjoyed to see how far we’ve come since the project’s early stages.  Welcoming and celebrating the new investments at the event was an amazing experience and we’re excited to see the new opportunities these will bring to our staff, learners and wider Rhondda community.”

The latest investments at the Rhondda campus include the opening of a new fully equipped workshop and craft room, a purpose-built restaurant and advanced culinary training facility, and modern shower and changing facilities for the campus sports field. With learners and staff having made a return to in-person teaching, the new spaces will provide learners with the space, tools, and resources they need to gain industry-standard training that will help them excel in their chosen career.

A dedicated room designed to help learners with additional learning needs (ALN) to develop independent living skills, has been developed to ensure that Coleg y Cymoedd’s provisions for ALN learners meet the standards set out by Welsh Government’s ALN Bill.

Alongside the brand-new provisions, the college has formed partnerships with local community groups such as Welsh Rugby Union’s women’s teams, Ysgol Hen Felin, Rhondda Cynon Taf’s Youth Engagement and Participation Service, and dance and drama charitable group Ransack Dance. These partnerships aim to strengthen the college’s relationship with the wider community and further enrich learning experiences across the college through the introduction of new initiatives facilitated by the groups and held at the Rhondda campus.

Carolyn added: “The new facilities mean that we are able to host more events and initiatives directly at the campus which both learners and members of the public can benefit from.

“Through the college’s partnerships with the wider Rhondda community, learners and staff can have access to a network of local groups and organisations right on their doorstep and enrich their learning and teaching experience further.”

Cymoedd receive Award in recognition of excellent Career Support

Coleg y Cymoedd is proud to announce that it has been awarded the Careers Wales, Career Development Award. This award is presented to Further Education colleges who can evidence their commitment to the long-term development of careers education by working closely with Careers Wales; identifying key areas for development, and implementing a plan to address these.

Samantha Hobby UCAS & Careers Support Administrative Co-ordinator at Coleg y Cymoedd, worked closely with the Consultants from the Careers Wales Curriculum Team to conduct a thorough audit of the college careers provision, to identify areas for development and produce a collaborative plan of action.

Samantha prepared the assessments and collated the evidence to meet the standards, highlighting the range of support services on offer to the learners preparing them for their future aspirations. A key development has been the establishment of the Futures Team to support learners with their transition from college to University and the ‘World of Work. This was commended by the Careers Wales Panel, along with the introduction of successful virtual events for learners and parents during the challenging time through the pandemic.

Staff at the college support thousands of full and part time learners each year and the success of the recent submission will see the college hold this Award until 2024, ensuring the continuation of this important aspect of college provision. The ongoing partnership working with universities, employers and other institutions to support our learners has been inspirational and the college is thoroughly grateful for this continued support.

Thanking Samantha for her work in submitting the evidence and the staff who deliver the services, Principal Karen Phillips said “I am delighted that the college has achieved this Award, this is a key priority for the college and our staff are instrumental in providing a high standard of support to our learners, whether they are looking to go onto university, an apprenticeship, into work or setting up their own business. The range of the college’s high quality support was recognised in the Assessors comments”.

Talented Cymoedd learner is ‘made up’ with her Spooky look winner

Payton-Leigh Williams always knew she had an artistic flair for producing special effects make up and after three years of being self-taught she decided to visit the college to see what courses were on offer to further her skills.

She attended Cymoedd’s Nantgarw campus and after an interview with the staff working in that department she enrolled on the VTCT Level 2 Hair and Media Makeup course.

Studying at the college alongside the professional tutors provided Payton-Leigh with a broad range of skills and techniques in make- up and special effects and boosted her confidence in her work.

After only 8 weeks on the course Payton-Leigh was keen to grow her portfolio and signed up to “31 Days of Halloween”; a well-known challenge in the Beauty and Special Effects industry -to post a different Halloween look every day throughout October

With her increased confidence she was up for the ‘Challenge’ and entered 14/31 of her looks into the VTCT Trick or Treat contest, against learners of all levels from colleges from across the U.K. 

Payton-Leigh was delighted to win the competition with her re-creation of Sally from the Nightmare before Christmas, securing a £40 Amazon or Beauty Bay gift card.

Speaking of her success Payton-Leigh said “If you told me three years ago that I’d be entering my makeup into competitions with people on a higher course than me, I would have laughed. I never imagined myself to have the level of confidence in my makeup skills that I have now. In my work I try to include small features from things that have inspired me in makeup since the beginning such as the well-known event out in Orlando, Florida called ‘Halloween Horror Nights.’ I was lucky enough to have had one of the incredible makeup artists and the creative director, Michael Aiello, see my work from the 31 Days of Halloween challenge.  I’m very excited to see what else I’m able to achieve in the future”.

Congratulating Payton-Leigh, Hannah Howells, Course Tutor Level 2 Diploma in Hair and Media Makeup said “I am over the moon that Payton-Leigh’s amazing talents have been recognised amongst the hundreds of entries across the whole of the U.K. by none other than the awarding body VTCT. This is testament to the talent that we have not only in the South Wales valleys, but in Coleg y Cymoedd. After looking at Payton-Leigh’s four entries for the VTCT Trick or Treat Competition I feel this is more than well-deserved and I look forward to seeing what else she achieves in the future – well done Payton-Leigh!”


Wellington Street
Rhondda Cynon Taff
CF44 8EN


Heol y Coleg
Parc Nantgarw
CF15 7QY


Rhondda Cynon Taff
CF40 2TQ

Ystrad Mynach

Twyn Road
Ystrad Mynach
CF82 7XR

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