College restaurant trains the chefs of tomorrow 

By Steven Short 

How many Hastings restaurants can you name? You probably know a couple in New Town, or on George Street in the Old Town, but what about the restaurant next to the station? The one in the college? 

Coast restaurant has been serving lunch five days a week, and dinner on Thursdays, for the best part of a decade, but because it’s tucked away in the college building, many people don’t know it’s here. 

The restaurant is an integral part of East Sussex College’s City and Guilds Professional Cooking course where students, mostly aged between 16 and 19, learn not only how to cook to a professional standard, but how to serve customers and how a restaurant runs. 

CREDIT: Samara Jayne Martin

“It’s just like any other restaurant but you’re looked after by students, and your food’s cooked by students – but we’re here in the background to make sure everything runs smoothly,” says restaurant manager Jakki Pransky. “Students learn everything from silver service to how to serve wine… People can come in for lunch, Monday to Friday, or for a three-course dinner on Thursday. We do themed nights too, things like Cajun Night and A Night in Havana…” The restaurant can also be hired for a special occasion or function. 

In expert hands

The kitchen is overseen by new head chef Patrick Nzeli, who studied International Culinary Arts (at London’s Thames Valley University) and worked with the Compass Group, Restaurant Associates and the Roux Brothers before moving to Hastings, where he could latterly be found at Dragon Bar. 

“Our students are learning to be chefs. My role is to help them reach restaurant standards, and to help them make the move from college to employment,” says Patrick.

“It’s really rewarding watching the students develop, learning how a restaurant works and what it takes to be a chef,” says Patrick, who clearly loves being a mentor – he was also a football coach. “By coming to the restaurant people can support students in their journey.”

CREDIT: Samara Jayne Martin

Patrick’s menus draw on his classical training, with lunch dishes like ‘Chicken Veloute’, ‘lemon and dill cured salmon, cream cheese and mixed leaves with honey mustard dressing’ and ‘traditional Moroccan tagine with roasted peppers, courgette, aubergine, chickpeas and apricot’ – there are always vegetarian options, which can also be made vegan. 

Evening delights

While Coast’s daytime offering is casual – “We love it when people come and relax for a couple of hours over lunch,” says Jakki – Thursday’s evening menu is more formal. The meal begins with a complimentary cocktail or mocktail followed by starters such as ‘Fritto Misto’ (fried mussels, squid and prawn with aioli) and ‘tomato and parmesan tartlet with rocket’. Typical mains might include ‘smoked haddock with pea and mint croquette, pea puree and caper berries’ or ‘king oyster mushroom risotto with shallots, truffle oil, sage and thyme’. There are steak options too, and indulgent desserts like ‘honey espresso tiramisu’ and ‘coconut panna cotta with passion fruit and mango salsa’.

Coast restaurant is open during term time. To make a reservation, call 030 300 38456 or email [email protected]

Coast Restaurant, 1st Floor, East Sussex College, Station Approach, Hastings TN34 1BA

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