TV chef returns to Valleys college to inspire future culinary talent
A successful Welsh pastry chef who saw his creations appear on national TV has returned to the south Wales college he originally studied at to share his top tips and advice with aspiring young chefs hoping to enter the industry.
Michael Coggan, who appeared on Channel 4’s ‘Bake Off: The Professionals’, visited culinary learners at Coleg y Cymoedd to give them an exclusive cooking masterclass and answer any burning questions they have about working in the sector.
Currently working as Head Pastry Chef at the luxury five-star voco™ St David's Hotel in Cardiff, the talented pâtissier wanted to give back to the college that helped kickstart his career.
During his visit, Michael spent the afternoon teaching learners on the Level 3 Patisserie course how to master essential dessert skills such as tempering chocolate and creating garnishes. He also gave them an insight into the world of entremets - small, sweet French dishes traditionally served between savoury courses - and showed them how to make a chocolate showpiece to display these delicate creations.
Boasting an impressive culinary CV, Michael originally studied Professional Cookery at Coleg y Cymoedd’s Ystrad Mynach campus, before landing his first professional role at the Hilton in Cardiff, following a college work placement at the hotel chain. He then worked as a pastry chef at Scottish luxury country estate, The Gleneagles Hotel, before securing his current role and appearing on the Channel 4 series, where he made it to the third round with his patisserie partner, Rebekah Clash.
Following a successful career, Michael wanted to share his success and knowledge with the next generation of patisserie experts. He said: “While my job has taken me all over the UK, I always knew that one day I wanted to come back to the college I trained at to thank tutors for the support I received when I was a learner myself.
“It’s been wonderful to return to the place where I developed my love for patisserie in the first place. Without the support and opportunities I received here, I wouldn’t be where I am now, so I wanted to give something back. Pursuing a career in this industry can be hard so I hope I’ve helped to inspire learners to stick with it and work on developing their pastry skills.”
As well as helping learners develop their practical skills, Michael also shared his expert advice with them, discussing their plans for the future and offering them the opportunity to take their first steps into the professional pastry world with a work experience placement at voco™ St David's Hotel.
Jess Sullivan, 20 from Abertysswg, is class rep for the Level 3 Patisserie course and attended Michael’s visit. She said: “It was so inspiring to get an insight into what life could be like after college if we work hard. Michael taught us so many skills, like how to use different equipment and make the most of the ingredients, which will be really helpful for future competitions and jobs.
“My dream is to have my own business and open a bakery after working in the patisserie industry for a while, and Michael gave me lots of tips and advice on how to achieve this.”
With over 160 learners studying culinary courses, which includes Level 3 Patisserie, the college has developed its own state of the art facilities equipped with specialised training equipment, placing them locally and nationally on the map as a culinary training facility.
The college also runs four restaurants across its Aberdare, Nantgarw, Ystrad Mynach and Rhondda campuses, with learners creating and preparing dishes for the public which have received rave reviews on Trip Advisor.