Paul Jerome Williams – Chef Lecturer
Having attended college, I undertook an apprenticeship at the Dragon Hotel Swansea during I successfully obtained a range of professional cooking and culinary qualifications. I traveled throughout Europe working in city centre hotels in Frankfurt, Munich, Copenhagen, and Berlin where I gained vast experience in European cuisine and kitchen management.
Soon after, I traveled to Bermuda to work in a Resort Hotel and gain further qualifications in hotel management before moving on to Sydney Australia where I continued to gain experience in a series of four-star Hotels and restaurants.
Eventually, I moved back to Swansea and worked at the Holiday Inn and Swansea Marriott Hotel as an Executive Chef. I was responsible for all aspects of the management of the kitchen which covered the main restaurant, bar, room service, and banqueting facilities.
During my time at Swansea Marriott, I successfully attained the NVQ assessor qualifications which lead to progression in Lecturing at this College. I am now a Chef Lecturer which includes coordinating our Level two programmes in Professional Cookery and Patisserie and Confectionary I am also part of the quality assurance team within the Hospitality Department. I am also part of the teaching team for VRQ Level 1 Hospitality and FDQ Level 1 Bakery.
The hospitality industry is an exciting and forever developing market from which I have gained knowledge and experience that I am pleased to pass on to our students. Many of our students go on to enjoy successful and rewarding careers working in the local and national food industry.
I work with a highly professional dedicated team of experts and lecturers who seek to inspire and prepare students for professional and successful careers.
Area of expertise:
- International cuisine
- Kitchen management
- Advanced food hygiene
Rebecca Biesok – Level 2 Lecturer / Co-ordinator
I always loved baking from a young age but initially followed the academic path, studying A-levels and a degree in Business Management & Accounting. On completion of my degree, I knew pursuing a career in business wasn’t where my passion lay and returned to Neath College to retrain as a baker and cake decorator.
Over the next few years, I worked hard to develop my skills and complete my qualifications, whilst taking part in numerous competitions. I attended the ABST Conference, where I was successful in winning the Live Marzipan Modelling Competition 3 consecutive years, the Celebration Cupcake Challenge 2 consecutive years, as well as other awards in the Renshaw and Slattery classes. I also attended the Welsh Culinary Championships, where I received multiple bronze, silver and gold awards for my work in cake decorating and patisserie.
The pinnacle of my competition work resulted in me obtaining a prestigious place on a course at the Richemont School in Lucerne, Switzerland. This was an unforgettable experience and cemented my passion for the industry.
Whilst looking for work in the industry, I completed work experience at the Cavan Bakery in London before settling to work for a local company, La Crème Patisserie. As part of a small baking team, my role involved producing a wide variety of high-end cakes and patisserie goods for hotels, restaurants and coffee shops all over South Wales including: Celtic Manor, Ffos Las Racecourse, Margam Orangery and Oldwalls Gower.
My next role was working at NPTC Group as a Technician, where I progressed to teaching and completed my PGCE.
I currently teach on Level 1, 2 & 3 Bakery and Cake Decorating courses and find it extremely rewarding passing on skills and knowledge to the students. I am able to mentor the students in competitions at the ABST, sharing and drawing from my personal experiences. This gives me a great deal of satisfaction and it feels that I’m giving back opportunities once presented to myself.
I also share responsibility for the development and running of our Blasus Bakery shop. I continue to keep up to date with ever changing trends and processes within the bakery and cake decorating industries, to ensure students learn the relevant skills expected of them to pursue a career in the industry.
Area of expertise:
- Patisserie & Confectionery
- Cake Decoration
- Product Development
Helen Lavercombe – Lecturer and level 3 course coordinator
Having begun my career working within a busy snack bar and restaurant at the age of fourteen, my passion for the food and hospitality industry grew. Influenced by an experienced merchant navy chef who encouraged and mentored me towards my next path which was to join a catering college. Whilst undertaking my college training, I worked part time in a local a la carte restaurant alongside an acclaimed chef from London, eager to learn and digest as much knowledge as I possibly could. During my training, I was one of only two students chosen to prepare and serve food to Princess Diana during the opening of the new scanner at the Princess of Wales hospital.
At nineteen the chef passed on the reins as head chef to me, which was an incredible experience that taught me that management was the next route to take. I then left to study at Birmingham’s Food College, which at the time was Britain’s number one college for food! I continued to work alongside my studies within a number of different establishments, the NEC, ICC, 5 star Thistle Hotel and 5 star Swallow Hotel, where I took a short break from cooking.
Once my studies came to an end, I decided that travel and worked in Scilly at a small family restaurant based in Palermo and at the 6 stars Fairmount, Banff springs hotel in Alberta Canada.
This experience allowed me to cook and serve VIP and celebrity guests ranging from multi-millionaire oil barons from Texas to Janet Jackson, Rod Stewart and Bob Hope to name just a few.
On my return to the U.K, I joined Whitbread as a manager for Brewers Fayre based in Radyr Cardiff, a very busy family-themed restaurant. My final position before entering my current role as chief lecturer was a unit manager and events manager for Granada. This gave me another form of hospitality experience, as this was based on factories such as Ford, Welsh Water, and the general post office.
Since joining this college, I have held the positions of Hospitality Assessor, Chef Lecturer, and level 3 course coordinator. I also share the responsibility of managing our bakery shop, Blasus and coordinate the food preparation and production for our gastronomic and large scale events.
Area of expertise:
- Advanced professional culinary cooking skills
- Patisserie and confectionery
- Food safety management and hygiene systems
- Product development & gastronomy
Naomi Hillen – Programme Director HND/B.A. Degree Hotel and Catering Management
After completing my A levels in school I undertook a Batchelor of Arts Degree in Hotel and Catering Management at Brighton University. This was the beginning of an exciting career in the hospitality industry that has provided me with the experience of working in a number of different departments within a range of establishments including The Marriott Hotel in Rhode Island U.S.A. where I was a member of the V.I.P. concierge team and Compass Contract Catering where I was assistant manager at Standard Charter Bank in the City of London.
I have also worked at the Grand Hotel in Eastbourne and First Leisure Entertainment Company, participating in many outdoor catering events such as The Farnborough Air Show and serving the Red Arrows.
Fulfilling my ambition of always wanting to work in the hotel sector, I was appointed General Manager of a privately owned hotel situated in the Gower. The hotel comprised of 19 bedrooms, a public bar, and restaurant and 2 large conferences and banqueting rooms where we specialised in weddings and large events. As well as overseeing the day to day operation of the hotel, I was responsible for budgeting, marketing, staff recruitment, staff training, and development.
With a passion for the training and development aspects of my management position, I left the hotel to become a food and beverage assessor and restaurant manager at this college. After completing my P.G.C.E., I was promoted to the position of full-time lecturer and am now Programme Director for the H.E. programmes in Hotel and Catering.
Area of expertise:
- Advanced front of house operations & customer service
- Hotel management
- Licencing & marketing
Andrew Lauder – Chef Lecturer
I was born in the Swansea Valley and before becoming a chef I didn’t really know what I wanted to do, during my last year of school, I took a weekend job helping out at weekends in the kitchen of a small local hotel.
This led to the hotel employing me through the “YTS” scheme and allowed me to study part-time which I did, at this very college.
As a young commis chef, I joined the five stars, London Hilton, on Park Lane and continued my training as a chef at Westminster College. This was a great experience because it enabled me to totally immerse myself in the many areas of culinary fundamentals, techniques, and responsibilities, whilst learning the values of kitchen etiquette and high standards.
I stayed in London for around fifteen years and have worked in all sectors of the industry, in large and high end corporately owned businesses, as well as small independent Michelin, starred establishments. As part of these kitchen brigades, I have gained invaluable experience.
I returned to Swansea and set up my own restaurant, serving modern Welsh & European cuisine. Achieving Michelin and Taste of Wales recognition, my restaurant was established as a destination local restaurant. From here I returned to the hotel sector working as Head Chef at Morgans Hotel Swansea and later joined The Wales Millennium Centre Cardiff.
I would describe my cooking style as good honest food, without too many bells, whistles, and frivolous garnishes! I like to create food that tastes good and is well presented, but also leaves you feeling like you have eaten! Seasonality, Providence, sustainability and animal welfare are very important to me.
Throughout my catering career, I have found myself cooking in a variety of unusual settings, one of the most memorable would be cooking at the private home of a former Prime Minister and other dignitaries under the watchful eyes of armed guards.
As a lecturer, I am required to return to industry to keep up to date with trends that recently led me to work with a prestigious event company providing the catering for a society wedding at the Glanusk Park Estate Crickhowell with guests including senior members of the royal family.
My current position as chef lecturer enables me to pass on my knowledge to future professionals of our industry. This is something I find highly motivational and rewarding.
Area of expertise:
- Menu development and costing
- Culinary skills
Paul Pearce – Deputy Head of School
Having been a student here at the College, I achieved a range of professional kitchen, restaurant and supervisory qualifications, which led to me gaining 25 years of industry experience.
After a period of being a young self-employed entrepreneur, providing outside catering service, I pursued a career working in a number of restaurants and hotels including The Hilton and Marriott. I began working at the four-star Swansea Marriott Hotel as a Senior Supervisor with the responsibility of overseeing the restaurant and bar. I was also responsible for training new staff and was later appointed to the role of Duty Manager, which gave me the experience of working across all departments including front desk, banqueting, events, housekeeping, bar, and restaurant.
It was through my supervisory and management roles within the industry that I achieved the NVQ assessor qualifications which led me to a job role within a work-based training company. This role involved assessing a range of hospitality qualifications across both the front and back of the house.
Since joining NPTC Group of Colleges, formally known as Neath College, I have held the positions of Hospitality Assessor, Restaurant/Hospitality Lecturer, Senior Lecturer and am currently Deputy Head of School.
The hospitality industry is a fast-moving and dynamic industry that provides many exciting experiences. The employment opportunities are vast both locally, nationally and overseas. Many of our current and past students have gone onto enjoy long and successful careers working on cruise ships, in event management, hotels, and restaurants. Some have even worked for royalty!
Working alongside my team of highly dedicated and professional industry experts and lecturers, we aim to inspire and prepare students so that they can enjoy the benefits of a long and successful career, working in such a fulfilling and professional industry.
Area of expertise:
- Food & beverage service
- Hospitality & hotel management
- Health, safety & hygiene