First Class Honours for Rising Young Chef

A rising culinary star will be graduating with first class honours from City College Norwich’s renowned Hotel School, just a few weeks after being named Student of the Year.  Ben Keeley, who completed a BA honours degree in Hospitality, Leisure and Tourism, has his sights set on becoming a top chef and is a name to watch for the future.

Ben, 22, from Kings Lynn, completed his degree whilst working at the Broad House Hotel in Wroxham.  The talented young chef’s dedication to his learning and work has earned him accolades from his tutors, employer and customers.  At the annual college Hotel School awards in July, Ben was awarded the Student of the Year prize, sponsored by the Institute of Hospitality.

Ben is now preparing to read an MSc in Food Policy at City University London, which he plans to combine with further work experience alongside some of the country’s top chefs.  This will include spending time at Raymond Blanc’s Le Manoir restaurant in Oxfordshire.  Last year Ben achieved the distinction of being named as one of three young chefs selected by Raymond Blanc to attend the Oxford Symposium on Food and Cookery.

Raymond Blanc is something of an inspiration to Ben, who is keen to continue honing his skills whilst deepening his knowledge of the food supply chain and procurement.  Ben is passionate not just about the art of cooking, but also about the historical and cultural significance of food and using the best quality, locally-sourced ingredients.  Eventually Ben would like to have his own restaurant and to reach the standards of internationally renowned and award-winning chefs such as Marcus Wareing and Richard Corrigan, whom he also cites as his inspirations.

On achieving a first in his degree, Ben said: “It was a fantastic accolade for my hard work.  The degree provided a good blend of academic and work-based theory that worked really well alongside my work, as I was able to apply the theory I was learning at college to my work at the Broad House Hotel.  I am very grateful to all the HE staff within the Hotel School who aided my learning experience.”  

Steve Thorpe, Head of the Hotel School at City College Norwich, said: “Ben is incredibly motivated and a real talent.  He has an exceptional drive and passion for working with food and is an exemplary role model for training and working in the hospitality industry.  Achieving first class honours is a superb achievement and I have no doubt that Ben will continue to impress as he takes his training on to the next level.”    

Ben’s talent for cooking was discovered when, aged 14, he took a weekend job as a kitchen porter.  Ben continued on to A-Levels after his GCSEs, but his real passion was in the kitchen, where he developed his skills at the Rose and Crown in Snettisham.  At the age of 17 he was entered for the national Pub Chef Awards and was named Eastern region runner up in the Young Pub Chef category.  This gave him the confidence to pursue a career in hospitality and he enrolled on an NVQ in Professional Cookery at City College Norwich.   

Ben excelled in his NVQ and was recommended by the Head of the Hotel School for a position at the Broad House Hotel.  The NVQ, together with Ben’s work experience, helped him to flourish and develop a true passion for cooking and a love of all things culinary.  He also enjoys sharing his passion and has visited local schools to pass on his enthusiasm and skills.  After finishing his NVQ in 2007, Ben decided to continue his training through a Foundation Degree in Culinary Arts, which he topped up to a full BA (Hons).  He will graduate at City College Norwich’s graduation ceremony on Saturday October 23rd at Norwich Cathedral.