An aspiring chef from Westminster Kingsway College is jetting off to India to put his culinary skills to the ultimate test in a global competition.
Jackson Carter, 18, will be representing England and competing against chefs from more than 50 countries in the ninth International Young Chef Olympiad from 29 January to 4 February.
He said: “It’s a great feeling to have performed well enough for my chef lecturer to pick me and I will be flying out to take part in an international competition. Just to be going there is incredible.
“I’ve always tried very hard to improve my skills, and over the past month I have been pushing myself and practising every day to do even better.”
The first round of the competition run by the International Institute of Hotel Management will see the participating chefs split into groups competing in Delhi, Bangalore, Pune, Hyderabad or Goa, before the 10 leading chefs compete in the grand final in Kolkata.
Jackson, from Brent, who is studying for a Professional Chef Level 3 Diploma, started out on a Level 1 diploma at WestKing in September 2020 before progressing to Level 2 and Level 3.
He said: “Since I was in Year Six at school I’ve been cooking with my mum and always really enjoyed it. I’ve grown up around food and it’s always something I’ve loved and had a passion for.”
Jackson began to consider a career as a chef while studying food technology at secondary school, which later led to him choosing to train at WestKing after being impressed the college’s facilities.
He said: “There are not many other colleges that can match WestKing, especially in London. There are other colleges that have a small section dedicated to training chefs, but every corner you turn here you’re in a new kitchen or production room.”
She said: “This is incredible. I can’t put it into words. This surpasses every achievement of my life. I don’t know how I’m going to top this. This is it, this is the peak, I think I’ve reached it!”
Her winning menu featured a starter of seabass cured in citrus dressing with smoked aubergine and spiced red pepper purées, followed by a main of crispy chicken thighs, tortellini filled with chicken, mushrooms and coriander topped with a coconut curry sauce, and for dessert a cardamom custard tart with poached apricots and a honey tuile.
Masterchef presenter Gregg Wallace said: “Nikita opened up the larder of the world and brought us dish after stunning dish after stunning dish.”
Michelin-star chef Marcus Wareing said “She’s a chef that has grown right in front of our eyes. Her food has been sublime,” while fellow judge, chef and restauranteur Anna Haugh, added: “Nikita is on the road to creating a very unique cuisine. And that is why she’s our champion.”
Nikita, who works as a Junior Sous Chef at Michelin-star restaurant Kitchen W8 in Kensington, trained at the college’s School for Hospitality and Culinary Arts in Victoria from 2016-19.
She undertook Level 2 and Level 3 apprenticeships, sponsored by The Worshipful Company of Cooks, at The Lanesborough in Knightsbridge and Claude Bosi at Bibendum in Kensington.
Nikita said: “My apprenticeship at Westminster Kingsway was a fantastic way to gain important foundational knowledge and skills, which compounded with real experience working in restaurant kitchens, set me up with both the skills and qualifications I needed to work in top Michelin-starred restaurants.
“I’m so glad I started my career on this apprenticeship. The guidance and extra support that made the job a little less daunting when I first started out.”
Nikita grew up in Derby and lived in India with her family for two years from the age of nine. As a child she would prepare meals with her mum, which inspired her love of Asian cooking.
After her apprenticeship at WestKing, she travelled for nine months around South East Asia, which further deepened her passion and appreciation for the region’s flavours and culinary styles.
Sharon Barry, Head of School for Hospitality and Culinary Arts Apprenticeships, said: “Nikita was a dedicated, passionate and highly motivated learner during her time at WestKing. It comes as no surprise that she has continued to grow and thrive within her culinary career.
“Winning Masterchef: The Professionals is a fantastic achievement, and we are all incredibly proud of her. She is a huge inspiration to all our current learners who has shown anything is possible if you believe in yourself and follow your dreams.”
Find out more and apply for Hospitality and Culinary Arts courses here and apprenticeships here.
Westminster Kingsway College’s award-winning School of Hospitality and Culinary achieved another milestone when it was awarded accredited status by the Craft Guild of Chefs this month.
The Craft Guild of Chefs is the leading chef association in the UK. It plays a key role in championing the skills and talents of the people in the foodservice and hospitality sector and, as a part of this, it runs a prestigious accreditation scheme which universities and colleges that teach culinary skills can apply to join.
To be accredited, universities and colleges must meet stringent criteria set by the Craft Guild of Chefs, demonstrating that the faculty offers a high calibre of teaching. An independent assessor also inspects the college to ensure it meets the high standards required.
As Curriculum Manager Miranda Quantrill explained: “We are absolutely delighted that the college’s Hospitality and Culinary Arts provision has been accredited by the Craft Guild of Chefs. This is great news and it’s a massive endorsement of the work that we do here. A big thank you to all the staff and the students who made this possible.”
The Craft Guild’s independent assessor visited the college in early November and spoke to staff including Miranda and Restaurant Manager Marc Whitley as well as a number of our students.
He was glowing in his praise of both the quality of teaching and the attitude of the students, saying in his report: “It is clear that everyone excepts nothing but the best from each other and both staff and students understand that ethos, respect it and are more than happy to ensure the high standards requested are maintained by everyone.”
As part of his inspection, the assessor also visited the Escoffier Room, the college’s fine dining restaurant, where students cook meals for, and serve, members of the public, and was served a meal by students.
He also spoke to a couple of first year students, both of whom talked with excitement about the course and their desires to progress through the industry and what they wanted for their future. Both students spoke extremely highly of the course the tutors and the facilities they had the good fortune to be taught within.
The assessor concluded his report saying: “Westminster Kingsway College benefit from a committed and professional team of hospitality lecturers. The standards set by the faculty team is reflected in the appearance and enthusiasm shown by the students. It is clear that many students will have successful careers and the continued relationships with industry will support this objective.”
Terry Tinton, Assistant Principal Hospitality, Foundation Studies and Commercial, said: “We are over the moon that the Craft Guild of Chefs has awarded Westminster Kingsway College accredited status.
“This award has been well-earned and recognises the decades of skill and experience that has gone into the quality of our culinary teaching, as well as the way that we structure our courses to make them as industry-relevant as possible.
“It’s why students from all over the south-east of England come to us, and why so many of them graduate from here into great jobs in some of the country’s top restaurants and hotels.”
Do you want to be a chef or work in hospitality? Learn from the best at WestKing. Find out more about our Hospitality and Culinary Arts courses here and apprenticeship training here.
“Taking on this apprenticeship has allowed me to follow my passion, balancing learning with practical work whilst getting paid. I love being part of the team here and learning from others around me.
“There is always something new to uncover and that’s what I enjoy most about being a chef and I hope to build my knowledge further, as I continue this exciting journey.”
Compass Group UK & Ireland is part of Compass Group, the largest contract catering company in the world employing 500,000 people and serving 5.5 billion meals to 55,000 clients each year.
Jonathan Foot, Head of Apprenticeships and Early Careers at Compass Group UK & Ireland, congratulated Dylan on his “wonderful achievement.”
He further praised Dylan’s “phenomenal efforts” as he has progressed in his career and described him as a great role model for anyone looking to start an apprenticeship.
Tom Damen, Chef Lecturer at WestKing, said: “Each week at college I see Dylan’s commitment to improving his culinary skills. Through his apprenticeship at Compass Group he has excelled to a new level of professionalism and confidence.
“I would like to congratulate him on wining Compass Group’s Apprentice of the Year, which is so well deserved. He is an outstanding young chef and destined to go far in the industry.”
Apply now for Hospitality and Culinary Arts apprenticeships here.
Two ceremonies were held at St Stephen’s Church near the college’s Victoria Centre in Vincent Square to honour those completing their courses and training this year.
Level 3 diploma students and apprentices received their scrolls at a ceremony led by Paul Jervis, Head of School for Hospitality and Culinary Arts, on 30 September.
Awards were also presented to the best and most improved students of the year before all the graduates marched outside the college to huge cheers and the school’s graduation tradition of banging pots and pans.
Alistair Biggins, 19, who won the Professional Chef Diploma Student of the Year, said: “I’ve enjoyed every minute of my time at WestKing. It’s been so much fun and I hope to come back one day. I owe it all to my class. We were a very tight unit and worked so well with each other. Three of us in the group got awards, which was nice to see. It’s great to be part of the school’s history.”
“My lecturers were really good. By the end of your course, they’re more like a friend. They were always looking out for our best interests and give us advice. They teach you things you won’t learn anywhere else because they have so much experience.”
Freya Smith, 19, who won Pastry Chef Diploma Student of the Year, and is now working at Miel Bakery in Camden, described her teachers as “amazing and inspiring.”
She said: “I‘ve really enjoyed my years at WestKing. I’ve always loved cooking and coming up with new flavours using different ingredients. Here, you start by learning all the basics, which allows you to be more creative in understanding the possibilities of what you can do. I’ve come a long way from where I started.”
Shanai Haynes, 19, who won Best Restaurant Service Diploma Student of the Year and is now working at Core in Notting Hill, said: “We had such a bond with our teachers. If we were stuck or struggling with an assignment, they were really helpful and supportive. They really prepared us well and gave us lots of experience for where we’re going. If it wasn’t for them, I might not have made it through the course.”
A Special Achievement Award was presented to the student who achieved above and beyond expectations during their studies, which was won by Jeremiah Youseman, 19, who studied for a Professional Chef diploma.
The ceremony also saw Stephen Carter, Michael Dutnall, David Smith, George Blogg, Julie Crocker and Guy Hilton receive Honorary Fellowships of Westminster Kingsway College.
Higher education students received their scrolls from Petrena O’Halloran, Head of Higher Education, as they were announced by Higher Education Lecturer David Bell, at a ceremony on 4 October.
David then presented awards to those students who had excelled in their studies this year.
Ricardo Ferreira, 43, graduated with a BA (Hons) Business and Enterprise Management and won the Institute of Hospitality Award, and is now a Chef Lecturer at WestKing.
He said: “It has been a long, challenging journey to reach this stage. There have been ups and downs, but the challenges have all been worth it. Being on the other side as a lecturer has further aided my self-development. I am thoroughly enjoying my role in helping learners achieve their potential.”
Giving the valedictorian speech, Business and Enterprise Management graduate Michelle Mori, 26, said: “Today is a day to be thankful and be inspired. It’s a day that demonstrates how much we can achieve if we don’t give up. We have received great education thanks to all our teachers who gave us the support, resources and the wake-up calls we needed to accomplish this major milestone.”
Guest speaker Professor David Foskett MBE, Chair of the International Hospitality Council and member of the Royal Academy of Culinary Arts and Craft Guild of Chefs, congratulated the graduates on their achievements.
Prof Foskett said: “Westminster Kingsway College is indeed a very special place and your qualification you have achieved here will change your life for the better and help you to develop your career.
“Higher education at Westminster is just as relevant today as it was in my day 50 years ago. A good, sound curriculum providing practical and cognitive skills and knowledge, giving its graduates dignity and status in the 21st century to compete for top positions in the hospitality industry.”
Commending all the graduates, Assistant Principal Terry Tinton said: “I would like to offer my warmest congratulations to all our students and apprentices on their graduation. They, and their teachers, have shown huge commitment and resilience during the most challenging period in education and for the hospitality sector. They will always be part of the WestKing family.”
Find out more about our Hospitality and Culinary Arts courses here and apprenticeships here.
Michelin-star chef Michel Roux welcomed newly enrolled Hospitality and Culinary Arts students and apprentices as they got a flavour of life at Westminster Kingsway College.
Around 350 aspiring chefs, hoteliers and waiters attended the event at the college’s Victoria Centre on 13 September, which included cookery demonstrations, fun games and activities and trade stands from many of the hospitality industry suppliers that work with the college.
Michel, who owns La Gavroche restaurant in Mayfair, insisted there was a job for everyone in hospitality whether in the kitchen or front of house and stressed the importance of qualifications.
He said: “This is one of the best colleges in London. The Roux family have been sending its apprentices here for 40 years. The people who train here, like your good selves, achieve greatness.
“There are lots and lots of opportunities in our industry. Whatever you choose to do, always remember to keep smiling and enjoy it, and maybe one day some of you will be working alongside me.”
The new students enjoyed plenty of fun activities including trying their hand at icing and decorating cupcakes, making a crepe suzette and mixing mocktails.
WestKing works with a wide range of culinary industry partners, many of which were represented at the event.
Students learnt about the supply of fruit and vegetables with DDP Ltd and how to blend their own smoothies using various ingredients with kitchen equipment supplier Thermomix.
The event also featured stands from the Craft Guild of Chefs, The Caterer magazine, catering suppliers Flint & Flame, Koppert Cress and Mozzo Coffee, Compass Group and HRC, an annual expo for hospitality and food service professionals.
Also present was BSG, which gives hospitality and culinary students the opportunity to gain internships at prestigious private clubs, hotels and resorts in the United States.
There was also a free to enter raffle to win prizes including two tickets to see the musical Wicked at The Apollo, a basket of fruit, a chopping board from Rough Stuff Oak, a kitchen knife from Flint & Flame, a £50 Amazon voucher and copies of In a Class of Their Own, a book on the WestKing’s hospitality and culinary school’s history.
Sam Neil, 16, who has just started a Professional Chef Level 1 Diploma, said: “I’ve been interested in cooking for a few years. One of my grandad’s friends runs a catering company and suggested I look at working in hospitality. She said if you want to be a chef you should go to WestKing. My careers adviser at school told me it’s the best college they know for hospitality.
“Being a chef involves long hours, tough work but it’s a rewarding career. You get to show what you’re about through the food, rather than sitting in an office doing work you’re not interested in.
“I’ve really enjoyed today. It’s been good to meet some chefs and get a feel for what the hospitality industry is like. I’m only in the first few weeks of training and getting the basics done, but I’m properly excited to start cooking, get to know people and about the whole college experience.”
Ellie Paphitis, also 16 and studying the same course, said: “I’ve been enjoying cooking since I was young, especially baking and making pastries. I was going to go to sixth form and do A Levels, but I changed my mind because I wanted to do something I was really passionate about. I’ve tried a lot of things, but cooking is the one thing I’ve stuck with in my life. I also have a lot of influences in my family because they like to cook as well.
“A lot of us are aspiring to be like Michel Roux and it was very motivational and inspiring to hear from him. It made me feel like I’m not so far away, and if I really try my best and work towards what I want to be, then I can do it.
“There has been lots going on today. I’ve tried some fruits, vegetables and some garnishes. I’ve not heard of any other college doing anything like this. I’ve been able to speak to other students and teachers. It’s really brought everyone together.”
The Burnt Chef Project, which provides mental health support for the UK hospitality industry, also attended the event along with other support organisations including SASH London, Mind, Insight and WestKing’s own Student Services team.
Miranda Quantrill, Curriculum Manager for Hospitality and Culinary Arts, said: “We were delighted to officially welcome our new students and apprentices starting this year, as well giving our second and third years an opportunity to network and have fun, and what could be more exciting than to have Michel Roux inspire them as they start their hospitality journey!
“The day was a hive of activity and gave students the chance to settle into life at college – which can be quite daunting if you have just left school – and to find out more about the incredible industry they will be gaining the skills and knowledge to work in over the next few years.”
Figures show that one in six new jobs created in the UK over the past year was in the hospitality sector, the equivalent of 133,000 new roles.
Find out more about out Hospitality and Culinary courses here and apprenticeship here. Enrol now.
A chef lecturer and an apprentice from Westminster Kingsway College are celebrating after being named winners in the prestigious Craft Guild of Chef Awards 2022.
Jose Souto, who has taught at the college for 18 years, scooped the Chef Lecturer Award, while chef de partie apprentice Grace Hawksley was presented with the Apprentice Chef Award.
The Craft Guild of Chefs Awards recognise exceptional talent in the industry, from apprentice and young chefs starting out to established chefs in hospitality, pubs and restaurants.
Jose and Grace received their awards from Andrew Green, Chief Executive of the Craft Guild of Chefs, and Nick Vadis, Culinary Director of Compass Group UK respectively, at a glittering ceremony at Magazine London in Greenwich on 9 June.
Before joining WestKing, Jose had worked as a Chef de Partie at the House of Commons for more than 20 years where he began as a sous chef. During this time he also worked at The Ritz, The InterContinental, Mosimann’s and the Savoy Grill.
Grace, 19, from Haywards Heath, is undertaking her Level 3 Apprenticeship at the four-star Gravetye Manor hotel in East Grinstead having completed a Commis Chef Level 2 Apprenticeship last year.
Young chef Lorcán wins Compass Apprentice Chef of the Year
WestKing commis chef apprentice Lorcán Leavy has been named Compass Group UK’s Apprentice Chef of the Year.
Lorcán, from Tower Hamlets, was among eight apprentice chefs who took part in a competition at the contract catering company’s head office in Chertsey to win the award.
Each chef was tasked with creating two courses in two hours using a mystery box of ingredients that included chicken, mackerel and seasonal produce.
Lorcán, who is training with Restaurant Associates, said: “I’m really happy to have won, it’s been a really good learning experience and has taught me to stay calm under pressure.”
All the entrants have been invited to cook at the Apprenticeship of the Year dinner at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in July.
Congratulating Jose and Grace on behalf of the WestKing hospitality and culinary team, WestKing Assistant Principal Terry Tinton said: “Jose is an amazing educator that dedicates his work and personal time to training and supporting the next generation of chefs.
“As a senior lecturer he works tirelessly to ensure the college engages with the industry and that our curriculum offer exceeds the needs of our partners.
“Grace has always been an exceptional student and this accolade is a testament to her hard work and professionalism. The entire apprenticeship team has done a fantastic job, training, mentoring and support Grace through her studies.”
Steve Munkley, Vice President of the Craft Guild of Chefs, said: “This has been a year of exceptional challenges and I am so proud to see that we have so many worthy winners.”
Have you considered a career in the exciting hospitality industry? Chefs are in demand throughout the UK and London is a major culinary hotspot, so you too could follow Jose and Grace into the kitchen by studying at Westminster Kingsway College – one of the UK’s top culinary schools.
It rates WestKing as one of the top five schools in the world to gain the skills and technical expertise needed to become a chef.
The college was recognised alongside other illustrious institutions, namely the Culinary Institute of America in the United States, Le Cordon Bleu in France, Apicius in Italy and the Business and Hotel Management School, Switzerland.
The article read: “Sitting in the heart of London, you are exposed to the best of the world’s culture right at your college campus. Westminster Kingsway College is one of the most diverse and dynamic colleges on this list.
“This title is claimed on the back of the diversity of the courses that it offers. It matters not if you are a young person … or a professional looking to brush up your skills or someone who is looking to reorient his or her career, you can find a course that suits your needs here at Westminster Kingsway College.
“A list of notable alumni also enables you to find professional footing once you graduate from the college.”
Spaces for next year are filling up fast with more than 100 offers already made to prospective students looking to study courses or take apprenticeships at the college this September.
Lidia Pozzuto, 20, who completed a Professional Chef Level 3 Diploma last year, is now working as a pastry commis chef at The Ritz London.
She said: “I chose to study at WestKing because I felt the chef diploma was the best fit for me and would give me a good all-round understanding and skillset compared to courses at other colleges.
“I learnt a lot during the course. It definitely helps you to solidify the basics to work in the industry and gives you various opportunities to gain work experience.”
“I got into The Ritz after one of my lecturers was told about possible positions by a former student who worked there. I’ve really improved my skills since I’ve been there and its very fulfilling seeing the high standard of food we produce every day.
“What I love most about working in the culinary sector is that there are so many pathways to go down and you’re constantly learning. There’s always new skills and techniques to develop.
“I want to keep on improving and continue working my way up in the industry.”
WestKing is part of Capital City College Group (CCCG), which also comprises City and Islington College and the College of Haringey Enfield and North East London and apprenticeship provider Capital City College Training.
The college’s Victoria Centre is home to the School of Hospitality and Culinary Arts and two award-winning training restaurants, The Brasserie and The Escoffier, collectively known as The Vincent Rooms.
WestKing’s high-profile hospitality and culinary arts alumni include Jamie Oliver, Ainsley Harriott, Antony Worral Thompson, Sophie Wright and Ben Murphy.
Gary Hunter, Deputy Executive Principal of CCCG, himself a trained chef and chocolatier, said: “To be mentioned in the top five culinary arts schools by such a highly respected publication is incredible. It’s even more astonishing when you consider all the other institutions are all privately funded with access to better financial resources and would be right up there on my list too.
“WestKing is certainly punching above its weight, which is down to the huge dedication of our teachers, staff and employer partners who every day inspire and motivate our students and apprentices, who in turn continue to astound us with their talent, ability and commitment to be the best they can be.”
Student chefs won an outstanding 55 medals as Westminster Kingsway College was named the highest achieving college at this year’s International Salon Culinaire.
More than 600 chefs took part in the culinary challenge, considered one of the world’s top competitions for chefs, at the Hotel, Restaurant and Catering event at ExCel London in March.
WestKing’s students achieved three gold, 37 silver and 16 bronze medals and two certificates of merit, in various culinary skills challenges.
Among the college’s top performers were Professional Chef Diploma students Taylor Muller and Kaleisha Gordon, both 18, who each won a gold medal and best in class.
Taylor was awarded for her lamb and Kaleisha for her petit fours.
Kaleisha said: “I felt very excited to be chosen to participate in the competition and I really wanted to prove to myself that I was good enough. I was very happy when I won gold and knew all my hard work had paid off.
“The competition pushed me to really show my skills. We only had a week to prepare so I made a plan of everything and stayed behind at college every evening to practise.
“What I love most about cooking is the creativity and being able to express myself through my dishes. I enjoy challenging myself and seeing how far I can push myself.
“The college has prepared me well for the working world. It’s given me more confidence in the kitchen and helped me discover so much about myself.”
Also among the winners was Commis Chef apprentice Cameron Jones, 18, who won a gold medal for his amuse-bouche and a silver for his lemon sole filleting.
Other medallists included Marli Carter, 19, and Jess Erskine, 18, who were both presented with silver medals and named best in class for their deserts and pastries respectively.
Miranda Quantrill, Curriculum Manager for Hospitality and Culinary Arts, said: “We were thrilled to have been the highest achieving college at this year’s Salon Culinaire and are immensely proud of all our students and apprentices.
“For many of them, it was their first time taking part in such a highly regarded competition against other colleges, restaurants and hotels, so to take home more than 50 medals is a fantastic achievement. They are a credit to themselves, their mentors, their teachers and the college.”
Michelin-star chef Michel Roux Jr presented medals and certificates to the winners of the competition, which was judged by some of the UK’s most renowned chefs.
Steve Munkley, Director of International Salon Culinaire, said: “Salon Culinaire 2022 was an outstanding success, with all the theatre kitchens buzzing from early doors until the last competition.
“As Salon Director I was so proud to see the industry showing off its professionalism, hunger and tenacity, not letting anything stand in the way of getting us back on track and cooking. An amazing show.”
WestKing is one of the country’s top colleges for learning cooking and the culinary arts. As well as having great contacts with high-quality hospitality employers, which helps students get good jobs when they finish their studies, we also support students into culinary competitions like the Salon Culinaire, which is amazing preparation for their future careers.
To mark Hospitality Apprenticeships Week (18-22 October), we spoke to Craig Parsons, Apprenticeship Manager at Fuller, Smith & Turner, about apprenticeships and careers with the company’s 400 pubs, bars and hotels.
Tell us about your career in hospitality.
I’m a chef by trade but my job is to manage the apprenticeships for the whole Fuller’s estate.
Although I studied for a Sports Biomedicine degree, I loved cooking and wanted to pursue a career in the kitchen. At the time you couldn’t do an apprenticeship if you had a degree, so I applied for various jobs instead. I was given the opportunity to trial working in a kitchen, which eventually led to working for two AA rosette pubs.
I read a lot of books and developed my own style and role in restaurants, ski chalets and hotels. I’ve also been involved in food development for big supermarkets and worked for an apprenticeship provider. Because I couldn’t get on an apprenticeship myself, I wanted to give other people the education they deserve.
Tell us more about Fuller’s relationship with WestKing.
We began running Commis Chef and Chef de Partie apprenticeships with WestKing in 2019 and currently have 30 apprentices training. The college is renowned for being one of the best educational establishments for cookery in the world and we’re delighted they’re now in our network of education providers.
Whenever we look to work with a college, we always send our staff out to experience a class for themselves. You cannot fail to be impressed by WestKing’s prestige and ethos and we know the apprentices are going to be trained to the highest standards.
What skills will apprentices gain during their apprenticeship?
Our apprenticeships are about giving people the best education, not just for now but for later in life. At Fuller’s, we don’t always need to prep food from start to finish, but we still train our chefs with those skills because we know they’re going to use them in the future. It’s not just about what Fuller’s needs but about the whole industry.
The reason we use colleges is because they give students room to fail and that is often the best way to learn. From advanced pasta making to butchering, it’s important to have a safe environment where you can get advice and have room to improve.
What do you look for in an apprentice?
Ultimately, we’re looking for people with the right attitude, who want to get out of bed in the morning and have the drive to come to an interview and apply themselves at work and college. I don’t want anyone to feel they can’t join our apprenticeship programme.
Why is hospitality such a good career?
A career in hospitality can take you anywhere. I always had in my head that I didn’t want to stay in one environment for more than two years, although I’ve been at Fuller’s for seven years now.
At Fuller’s, you can move around and gain experience in many different environments and still have the security of a large company that offers great pay and benefits. You can earn from day one, add your own twist to dishes on the menus and become a head chef in four or five years.
What advice would you give to anyone considering a hospitality career?
Don’t just look at the name of the employer you want to work for, look at the training you’re going to get. Sometimes it’s not clear exactly what training is being offered. Make sure you know what you’re signing up for.
How is Fuller’s responding to the impact of the COVID pandemic?
COVID has had such an impact. The Government wants to push everyone into STEM careers. I can understand the motivation behind it but we’re starting to see big gaps across the hospitality sector.We need them to react to what’s going on and recognise the industry needs help to get people trained and into work.
There is going to be a new population of people looking for hospitality careers and there’s also a lot of untapped potential out there.At Fuller’s, we’re looking to expand our apprenticeship team and ways to increase awareness of apprenticeships across the sector.
We’re also planning further school liaisons to engage with young people.We’ve previously ran school events where we would teach the students skills such as how to fillet a fish and have had candidates coming forward off the back of that, so we know it works.
What are the benefits of being an apprentice with Fuller’s?
We started with a chef apprenticeship programme in 2016 because that is where we had a skills shortage. We started with 16 apprentices and now have more than 120 across the business. As well as chef apprenticeships we also run training programmes for our front of house and general managers. One of the biggest benefits is that we offer all our apprentices a permanent role upon completion of their programme. Fuller’s is also making big changes to its current pay and benefits package. We’re already industry leading with our apprenticeship pay and about to offer the highest national pay rate.
The learning opportunities are endless. Our apprentices can compete in our annual Chef of the Year competition, where past winners have had the chance to visit Michelin star restaurants in New York and Hong Kong. We also provide visits to our supply chain to see how our meat and produce is sourced and prepared.
Fuller’s has also won awards pre-COVID including Best Apprenticeship Training Programme at the British Institute of Innkeeping National Innovation in Training Awards and a silver award for Best Apprenticeship Programme at the Training Journal Awards.
How are our current apprentices doing?
They are all loving their apprenticeships and have remained positive despite COVID. They say it’s been tough but are seeing the positive impact the training is going to have on their future careers. There will always be cases where some people are struggling but we’ve got the support mechanisms in place to help them one-to-one and through the Licensed Trade Charity.
How do you see your partnership with WestKing developing?
I’ve been to an induction day at WestKing and plan to go and see some of the cookery sessions next year. I’m keen to get our general managers and head chefs along to the college and help co-train and co-assess learners, which will not only remind them of culinary techniques but also teach them about new trends and increase their skillset.
How do you apply for an apprenticeship with Fuller’s?
All apprenticeships at Fuller’s are advertised on our website and on job sites like indeed.co.uk. Successful applicants will be assessed by a college on their suitability for an apprenticeship.
WestKing runs Hospitality and Culinary Arts apprenticeships with many companies across the sector. Click here to Apply Now.
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