A college restaurant in York has been recognised for the quality of its food and service by two national bodies.

York College’s Ashfields 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.

The twin recognition means the 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.

York Press: Ashfields restaurant has become the second college training facility in the North of England to be granted AA College RosetteAshfields restaurant has become the second college training facility in the North of England to be granted AA College Rosette (Image: York College)

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.

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.

York Press: Prices for evening meals start from £25 per personPrices for evening meals start from £25 per person (Image: York College)

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.”

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.

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

To reserve a table, you can email ashfieldsrestaurant@yorkcollege.ac.uk or phone 01904 770253.