TRURO and Penwith College is celebrating as both its training restaurants have been shortlisted for a national award of excellence.

Only three UK restaurants made it to the final round of the prestigious AA College Restaurant of the Year competition, with Senara Restaurant at Penwith College in Penzance and Spires Restaurant at Truro College competing against The Classroom at Cardiff & Vale College.

Senara was crowned College Restaurant of the Year 2022, but it’s the first national final for Spires. 

Students and staff received the exciting news during a day-long competition held at The Grand Hotel, Birmingham. They will find out who takes the ultimate winning title at an awards dinner at the Grosvenor House London on September 23. 

David Izzard, director for occupational studies at Truro and Penwith College, said having both restaurants make the final is the icing on the cake for the college.

“This is not just a triumph of hospitality excellence, but a beacon of inspiration for our learners,” he said. “Competing at such a prestigious level has had a profound, meaningful impact.

“It showcases the exceptional teaching, state-of-the-art facilities and unwavering commitment to meet the evolving needs of Cornwall's vibrant hospitality profession, providing our learners with all the skills, knowledge and behaviours to be successful in this vibrant industry.” 

Talented students from across Cornwall decorated cakes and participated in a barista masterclass, before presenting their original ideas on how to attract and retain future staff in the hospitality sector to a judging panel of industry experts.  

Judge Lisa Jenkins, chief executive officer at the Royal Academy of Culinary Arts, said: “The 2024 College Restaurant of the Year final presentations were inspiring, and it is crucial that we, as an industry, listen to these young people to make sure we can continue to rely on them to keep hospitality moving.” 

Fellow judge Charlotte Horler, hotel manager at the Grand Hotel Birmingham, added: “Seeing the genuine passion for hospitality and the insight of the young people we have hot on our heels was humbling.” 

The AA award is only open to colleges with People 1st International accreditation and an AA College Rosette for their restaurant.