​Taste of things to come: Students open new diner

Shonnie Mackay hard at work in the kitchen.Shonnie Mackay hard at work in the kitchen.
Shonnie Mackay hard at work in the kitchen.
A new entry will be introduced to the culinary offering in Stornoway tomorrow (Wednesday) when catering students open their new “croft bistro” venture.​

​Based at UHI’s Stornoway campus it will be open to members of the public on a Wednesday and Thursday, 12.30pm to 1.30pm, and provides a valuable and important training opportunity for students seeking a professional catering qualification, by exposing them to the real commercial demands of running a restaurant.

The students will operate under the tutelage of college head of catering, James MacKenzie, the former chef at Digby Chick’s.

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The menus are designed by a different cookery student each week and will be published every Tuesday on the UHI North, West and Hebrides Stornoway Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/UHINWHStornoway/ This week’s menu, designed by student Mark McCreadie, provides a tantalising sample of what can be expected, with a clear emphasis on fine dining. One course costs £10 and two courses £14. To book, please call 01851 770406.

"Croft Bistro" will be located in the Stornoway campus."Croft Bistro" will be located in the Stornoway campus.
"Croft Bistro" will be located in the Stornoway campus.

The reopening of the ‘Croft Bistro’ comes on the back of student Shonnie Mackay (18) being awarded ‘Employee of the Year’ at Lews Castle, sponsored by travel company Together Travel.

Shonnie started as a Kitchen Porter in 2022 before rising to the position of Commis Chef. The award recognises his hard work, enthusiasm, and skills he’s developed between his job and college course.

Shonnie said: “I came to the college from 5th year and I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do. I started on the Professional Cookery course and really like Hospitality. James is a great lecturer to work with and has been so encouraging. My aim is to complete my course and work locally to build on my experience. I hope to be a Head Chef one day.”

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James Mackenzie, lecturer at UHI North, West and Hebrides, said: “We are so proud of Shonnie and all our students as they prepare to re-open the restaurant.

"The Bistro provides our students with essential practical experience of running a full service to the public. They work incredibly hard to design all the menus, deliver great food and first-class service. This is so important in developing their careers and creating much-needed trained staff to support local businesses.”

A spokesperson for Together Tavel added: “Since coming on board Shonnie has shown great interest and enthusiasm to progress within the hospitality industry, with a particular interest in the kitchen. Shonnie has worked extremely hard and developed his skills since starting college and through the practical events experience, he has gained in Lews Castle. Shonnie's positive attitude and team orientated work ethic made him a very deserving winner of this award and we are so very proud of his achievements thus far and look forward to seeing his career grow.”

Meanwhile, UHI North, West and Hebrides’ Stornoway campus will see the return of its popular NPA Bakery course next month.

Starting on Wednesday, 24 April, for nine weeks, the course is perfect for those who have a real interest in baking or if you are considering cooking or bakery as a career.