Hospitality and catering students learnt how to make sweet treats from an award-winning chocolatier and pastry chef during employability week.

Mark Tilling, winner of BBC Two’s Bake Off Crème de la Crème, was invited to Bath College to demonstrate the precise art of chocolate making. Students learnt how to melt and temper chocolate, and how to create marbled lollipops, stamped medallions and customised shapes during a three-hour session.

Second year student Amy Benfield works as a pastry chef at the Peppermill Hotel in Devizes, Wiltshire, and plans to specialise in this area. She said: “Pastry is quite creative and I’m a creative person. It was nice to meet Mark who is a specialist in chocolate and passionate about it. It’s inspiring to be able to speak to someone at that level.”

Experts in the hospitality and catering industry volunteer their time to give students at Bath College an insight into their profession for employability week every January. The college’s hospitality and catering department also works with local chefs throughout the year as part of the Bath Hotel and Restaurant School.

On 18 January, students will work with professionals from the Pig near Bath to prepare a three-course meal at the Shrubbery Restaurant. Tickets are available for members of the public. This year, activities for employability week included bread making, cocktail making, wine tasting, cooking demonstrations, and mock interviews with employers.

During the mock interviews, students had the chance to network with professionals form the Bath Pub Company, Apex Hotels and Woods Restaurant. They enjoyed workshops with the Billingsgate Seafood School, Richard Bertinet, from The Bertinet Kitchen, Gary Rosser, from the Scallop Shell and Chris Cleghorn and Claire Wilkins, from the Olive Tree Restaurant.

Mark Tilling has worked as a pâtissier for over 25 years. He started his career at 16-years-old studying at college and working part-time at a nearby hotel. In 2008 he won the title of UK Chocolate Master, progressing to 7th in the World Chocolate Masters Final in Paris a year later. He said: “I always think it’s important to teach the next generation, to come into college and show the students what we do.”

“They are the ones who will carry the industry into the future, and hopefully they will pass on their skills when they look back and realise how useful these experiences were for them.”

“I was at their level early in my career and we didn’t have people coming into college to visit. They are so lucky to have these different companies and chefs come in to inspire them. You never know, we might have the next chocolatier of master chef in the room.”

Ryan Hanson, Deputy Head of Hospitality and Catering at Bath College, said: “Employability is very important for our department and it’s something we focus on throughout the year.”

“We find giving our student access to these inspiring masterclasses, workshops and experiences throughout their time with us is invaluable to their development.”

“It’s something we work hard to deliver. We’re always looking to engage with industry and are so thankful for the experts that continue to support our students.”

For details of catering events and to book a meal at Bath College’s Shrubbery Restaurant visit: bathcollege.ac.uk