Engaging Future Audiences – Nurturing Future Careers
Images by Aly Wright
An education programme developed by Edinburgh International Festival has launched a bright young talent onto Scotland’s culinary scene, in partnership with award-winning event caterers Appetite Direct.
16 year old Jai Parsons, a 5th year pupil at Castlebrae Community High School in Edinburgh, joined forces with Appetite Direct founder Nigel Kennedy to specially create a menu served at the International Festival’s 2016 programme launch party (6th April). Together they created a range of canapés which Jai conceived and developed with Appetite Direct’s experienced team of chefs and event specialists, which included teriyaki beef, goat’s cheese and red onion cones and a brandade, served on the stage of the Festival Theatre where the launch party took place.
Jai had the opportunity to work with Appetite Direct as part of the International Festival’s three year arts residency at Castlebrae Community High school. This is the second year of a three year partnership between the International Festival, Castlebrae Community High School and the City of Edinburgh Council Creative Learning Department – which includes workshops, events, bespoke mentoring and work experience. The programme not only includes activities focussed around the performing arts and International Festival productions, but also highlights other aspects of the International Festival’s work and the varied professional skillsets required in its delivery.
Already a talented and keen amateur chef, Jai was offered professional mentoring with Nigel and the Appetite Direct team, who have been catering partner of the International Festival for three years. Jai used his experience from his part-time job as a trainee chef at Prestonfield House, to research his own ideas for the menu, which were then developed and delivered with the Appetite team. Jai also worked on site preparing and cooking canapés for last Wednesday’s launch at the Festival Theatre, where Appetite Direct also manage the theatre’s public café bar.
Festival Director Fergus Linehan said: ‘Our creative learning work is an important part of our activity throughout the year. I believe the International Festival has a role to play in stimulating young people’s experience of the arts, and in some cases mentoring them for a career. That can mean in the arts as performers, arts journalists and technicians, but also as front of house staff or in wider hospitality industries. And we can also help give young people the confidence to make their mark whatever road they follow. I’m keen that young people grow up seeing the arts as something they want in their lives. The International Festival looks to its own future of course, but I think we can also do our bit to nurture well-rounded thoughtful young people’.
Nigel Kennedy, Director of Appetite Direct said: ‘We have worked with the Edinburgh International Festival for a number of years and have been their official Catering Partner since 2014. It is a real pleasure to work with such a fantastic organisation that delivers such an awesome programme of arts events every year. Working alongside the Creative Learning team develops our relationship further and having the opportunity to nurture the enthusiasm and obvious talents of Castlebrae Community High School pupil and up and coming Chef, Jai Parsons, is wonderful. It is clear that Jai has put a great deal of thought and effort into the menu for the launch event. The whole team at Appetite Direct have enjoyed working with him on the testing and prep for the event, as well as on the night itself and look forward to continuing our work with him throughout the Summer and beyond’.