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Ashfields Restaurant is awarded prestigious AA Rosette recognition

YORK College’s Ashfields restaurant has been recognised for the excellent quality of its food and service by two national bodies.

The restaurant, which is open to the public, has become only the second on-site college training facility in the North of England to be granted AA College Rosette Highly Commended status.

That accolade is equivalent to receiving two rosettes in the industry-trusted AA Guide, with Newcastle College’s The Chefs’ Academy and Bistro the only previous Further Education provider to have been issued with a rosette north of the Midlands.

In addition to the rosettes, Ashfields also achieved a Gold award from People 1st after assessors enjoyed a meal in the restaurant.

That inspection resulted in a final grading of 138/145.

The twin recognition means College’s hospitality department is now regarded as a “Centre of Excellence” and comes at a time when a pair of talented students have just finished runners-up in two prestigious competitions.

Penny Garside placed second in The Chefs’ Forum Student Pastry Chef of the Year tournament and Lucy Richmond emulated that achievement at the International Wine and Food Society’s Young Chef of the Year final, where she was joined by fellow York College students Jake Bullock and Sophie Davies.

A fifth Sim Balk Lane representative Jasmine Ferdinando will now compete in the final of the Nestle Torque D’Or Hospitality (Front-of-House section) tournament this week.

Lucy Richmond and York College Head Chef Gio Achenza
International Wine and Food Society’s Young Chef of the Year runner-up Lucy Richmond with York College Head Chef Gio Achenza
Penny Garside
Penny Garside

Ashfields - a reference to the secondary modern school that used to be located on the college’s current site - is in the process of a rebrand, which will see it renamed The Cookery over the summer.

It is felt the new name will better complement the Cookery School that was launched for adult learners at the start of the academic year, with a full refurbishment planned for over the summer.

A Highly Commended (or two rosette) AA verdict signifies an “excellent restaurant that aims for and achieves higher standards and better consistency” with “a greater precision apparent in the cooking and an obvious attention to the selection of quality ingredients”.

The AA inspector sampled three courses – a starter of Beef Fillet Carpaccio served with parmesan panna cotta, caper berry, rocket salad and nduja mayonnaise; a main course of Beef Ossobuco Milanese served with saffron risotto and salsa verde and a dessert of Chocolate Cremeux, Hazelnut Praline and Caramel Ice Cream.

Ashfields is open to members of the public on selected evenings and afternoons with students supervised by Head Chef Gio Achenza and Front-of-House Tutor Suzanne Barwick.

Prices for evening meals start from £25 per person with Burns Night and the Chinese New Year just two of the many themed events that have taken place in the restaurant this year, along with Asian, Greek, Caribbean, Italian, Spanish and Mexican nights.

This year’s programme will conclude with a Lobster Festival tomorrow (4th June) and a Food and Cocktail Pairing Menu on Wednesday 12th June.

Ashfields 2

Afternoon Teas and Fish and Chip lunches also prove popular daytime dining options for Ashfields regulars.

In its assessment, People 1st summarised: “A very impressive college department who have a clear approach to ensuring that they are providing the right skills, knowledge and behaviours required for their students to have successful careers in the industry and the independence to care for themselves if they choose not to progress in the sector. The industry links are very strong and it is great to hear that the commercial impact of the area is also very strong with a strong revenue forecast that will be invested back into enrichment opportunities for the learners.”

Further reference was made to the guest chef visits and the fact that students on all courses at all levels are expected to work both in the kitchen and front-of-house to ensure they are “multi-faceted and more employable”.

The kitchen resources, meanwhile, were described as “industry relevant and plentiful”.

As part of the assessment, People 1st also consulted the likes of Adam Wardale, the chair of Hospitality Association York, and celebrity chefs Tommy Banks and Steph Moon, who have all forged strong links with the college and are among the local industry figures whose input is helping shape the curriculum to meet the profession’s future.

Students have been able to demonstrate their talents outside of the building, meanwhile, when catering at the National Trust Christmas Party and serving the Lord Mayor of York at the Mansion House.

For a full list of upcoming themed nights at Ashfields and details of Afternoon Teas and Fish and Chip Lunches, please click here

To reserve a table, please email or phone 01904 770253.

Details of upcoming York College Cookery School courses can be found here

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