In late October, Independents by Sodexo arranged for a small group of sixth form students who have special educational needs the chance to go behind the scenes at one of the UK’s finest gastronomic experiences, Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons.

The eight teenagers who are studying BTECs in Hospitality, Travel and Tourism at LVS Oxford, which is a specialist school for autism, sampled delicious food and observed the exquisite preparation behind food service at the restaurant where award-winning chef Raymond Blanc is the chef patron.
Le Manoir’s executive head chef Gary Jones, the holder of two Michelin stars, also gave the students a 40-minute insight into how its kitchen operates and showed them around the butchery and bakery sections.
Out in Le Manoir’s magnificent two-acre vegetable and herb garden, students learned about ingredients grown on the site and had the chance to taste different herbs and edible flowers, such as nasturtium, together with the sugar substitute stevia and micro mustard.
Before they left, each student was presented with a small Le Manoir gift box containing a piece of lemon cake and a promise of work experience if they were interested. 
The visit was organised after Samantha Edwards, Independents by Sodexo’s general services manager at LVS Oxford, saw the students watching an online discussion about Michelin-starred fine dining as part of a course project and wanted to provide positive social impact by organising a trip to the restaurant, so the students could see the restaurant in person, rather than only looking at it on screen.
Samantha Edwards, Independent by Sodexo’s general services manager at LVS Oxford, said: 

At Sodexo, we are committed to creating positive social impact in the communities we serve, so I’m delighted that I was able to organise this fantastic and informative trip to Le Manoir for the students. Everyone at Le Manoir was fantastic. Head chef Gary understood that the students might be a little shy or reticent to try things and had a charming way with them. We really appreciate him giving the students his business card and allowing them to return for work experience if they were interested.

Chris Lacey, head of sixth form at LVS Oxford, said: 

The knowledge, expertise and enthusiasm of the speakers were inspiring, and you could see their desire for the hotel.

The students were equally enthused by the experience; one commented:

Looking around the kitchen and seeing how they do things was great. 

Earlier this year, Sodexo launched its Social Impact Pledge, which included a commitment to contribute to the economic, social and environmental development of the cities, regions and countries in which it works.

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