Student Success at Pantry 61

Student Success at Pantry 61

Two former Colchester Institute students have used their vocational training skills to construct a family catering business from the ground up!

Colchester Institute Governor, Terry Smyth, discovered Pantry 61 in Boxted after receiving a local recommendation. What he found was a family business owned by patisserie chef Penny Smith selling beautiful homemade cakes and desserts all year round. Dad, Tim, and Mum, Beverly, spoke highly of the College and the learning experience both Penny and her brother, George, received during their time there.

And Pantry 61 is very much a family concern; while Beverly assists in the shop and helps in the kitchen as required, the whole family are always on hand to help.

Penny, who worked for several years in highly acclaimed local fine dining restaurants before owning her own business, had a fantastic time at Colchester Institute studying for her Level 1-3 Professional Chefs qualification. Her tutors remember her time fondly, including lecturer Stephanie Conway: “It is wonderful to see how Penny has flourished since leaving Colchester Institute and is running her own successful business. She has such a natural aptitude for patisserie.”

During his time as a student, George completed a 14-16 Bricklaying school programme before securing employment with Belway Homes and acquiring an apprenticeship. He went on to study Level 3 Bricklaying at the College, completing the course to the highest distinction standard. When Pantry 61 was being built, he worked on much of the foundational brickwork of the building, helping his sister’s dream become reality. Assistant Area Head of Trowel Occupations, John Watkins, is proud to have taught him, “He was always a pleasure to teach as he was always keen to learn and took on everything that was taught to him before putting it into practise to a very high level.”

Today, Penny is always excited to try out new recipes in Pantry 61’s modernised, high-tech kitchen, catering to trending desserts and dietary requirements, while George now works in construction at a local company, helping many others with their own projects throughout Essex.

The success of Pantry 61 speaks much about how far vocational study can take any learners who wish to work in a dedicated area and career. Since its inception in 2018, it has become a central, independent business for not only Penny’s patisseries, but also many other products on sale created by local artists in the area, including jewellery, pottery and greetings cards, curated by Penny and Beverly.

It’s heartening to see how Penny and George’s dedication to their respective crafts has led them to successful careers in their chosen fields. Colchester Institute is proud to have played a part in their journey and wishes them all the best for the future.