Back button

6th December 2018

An industry standing ovation for CH&CO’s apprentices

Throughout November, CH&CO apprentice chefs showcased their talents and the skills and confidence they have developed with the CH&CO Chefs Academy at three high-profile industry events, with outstanding results.

The up-and-coming chefs developed, created and cooked first class menus for the Craft Guild of Chefs Business Partners lunch, the Learning Curve Charity Ball and the FSM Awards. At each event, and on social media, the teams received great applause and praise for their dishes from a range of industry professionals and peers.

The 18 rising stars that showed off their talents are certainly chefs to watch for the future.  They work across the diverse CH&CO business and they are: Tamas Beller, Jonaton Sanchez, Alberta Ankara, Robert Budai, Dennis Idahosa, Ayesha Mall, Jerome Bruno, Patricia Pascoe, Charmaine Roswell, Eddy Yovo, Gabriel Egbe, Alina Botosanschi, Dawn Sexton, Desire Aduko, Jonatan Sanchez, Tyrone Campbell, Peter Kostur and Lucy Hayman.

The teams of apprentice chefs worked alongside CH&CO senior chefs and mentors at the three events, including the People Development Manager (Culinary), Steve Oram; Group Food Development Director, Jim Wealands; and Director of Food, Gary McKechnie.

Steve Oram, who heads up the CH&CO Chefs Academy, applauded the professionalism of the apprentices: “All of the apprentices volunteered for these events and for many of them, taking part meant being away from home for the first time as well as pushing the boundaries of their comfort zones. They all remained professional throughout and asked for help when needed. I am very proud of them all and my phone hasn’t stopped ringing with a team of eager apprentice chefs all wanting to know when the next event is.”

Over the course of the three events, the apprentice chefs catered for 795 covers and produced a delicious range of vegan, vegetarian, traditional and, for the Learning Curve’s Charity Ball, 1920s/30s Peaky-Blinders-themed dishes. Dishes across the events included, for example: layered saffron potato and seaweed cake, black garlic vegan mayonnaise and pickled seaweed; Telford beef, confit oxtail, swede and London honey textures with a Guinness jus and candied hazel nut and brandy mousse with a praline and cherry compote, to name just a few.

All three events catered for industry professionals, something which Oram said added an extra layer of pressure for the apprentices: “One of the toughest tasks as chefs is cooking for other chefs. So, when our apprentices were cooking for the Craft Guild of Chefs’ event, for example, we knew there was added pressure because of the audience.” 

Andrew Green, Chief Executive of the Craft Guild of Chefs, said: “The Craft Guild enjoyed our annual Business Partners lunch, once again hosted by CH&CO at Clothworkers’ Hall, where we got the chance to see, and of course taste, first-hand the excellent next generation of chefs being produced within CH&CO. With the Chef and skills shortage that we are entering it is inspiring to witness such talent being produced, their passion came out when they were describing their dishes, and, of course, showcasing to many of their peers and industry specialists in itself is no mean feat.”

Brenda McLeish, CEO of Learning Curve Group, said: “The apprentices played an important part in the success of our charity ball, seamlessly immersing themselves into the hotel kitchen to not only support their team, but be integral in serving hundreds of guests with an amazing dinner.  They certainly demonstrated the skills they have been gaining during their apprenticeship and will be important members of CH&CO’s future workforce.”

Jamie Robbins, Managing Director of H2O Publishing, the organisers of the FSM Awards, which at 400 covers was the largest audience the CH&CO apprentices catered for, said: “It really was 5-star standard and the dishes produced by the team got fantastic feedback. I hope the chefs really enjoyed the experience as much as we all enjoyed the meal!”

CH&CO’s Chefs Academy is inspiring the next generation of chefs. The varied apprenticeship programme includes a wide range of knowledge and skills workshops and masterclasses, chef challenges, visits to places of culinary excellence and professional kitchens to build apprentices’ experience and confidence as they gain recognised professional qualifications.

CH&CO will continue the trend of showcasing its Chefs Academy at future industry events in 2019. Investing in young and up-and-coming talent is something CH&CO believes in and sees this as a viable answer for the UK-wide chef shortage. Giving young chefs opportunities to take part in events and work across a range of venues is the perfect way to show them why hospitality is an amazing career path to take.