Bristol-based chef apprenticeship programme, The School of Food, is tackling the local skills shortage head on.
The innovative training course launched last year but already boasts numerous success stories. Students have completed apprenticeships at high profile restaurants across Bristol and the South West, as well as being nominated for prestigious awards.
One of those success stories is Elliott, who aims to become a Michelin-starred chef and believes The School of Food has set him on the path to achieving it.
He said: “I decided to join The School of Food as food and cooking has always been my passion. “My godmother is a really good cook and she has been an inspiration to me. When I was younger we used to cook together, so I knew I wanted to be a chef from a very young age.”
The School of Food is the brainchild of renowned local chefs; Josh Eggleton and Adrian Kirikmaa. The duo joined forces with Weston College, St Katherine’s School and Ashton Gate Stadium to deliver the programme, with the learners receiving weekly masterclasses from some of the best chefs in the South West.
“When I saw the School of Food advertised with weekly masterclasses taught by local Michelin-starred chefs, it really grabbed my attention,” Elliott said.
“The masterclasses, which teach a diverse range of techniques, have exceeded my expectations. A great example is one we had from a local fishmonger – an area I lacked experience in.
“We were shown how to gut and fillet a salmon and several mackerel. It didn’t stop there as the masterclasses go into real depth. We were also shown how to trim and pin bone, as well being taught about different types of cuts and cooking techniques.”
Thanks to The School of Food, Elliott has gained an apprenticeship at Puro restaurant in Clevedon.
“The whole process of getting an apprenticeship was very easy,” he said. “I have received great support from Weston College. My college assessors actually come to me as well which saves me travelling to Weston. I really enjoy my apprenticeship and the team give me expert training.
“My long-term ambition is to gain Rosettes (a cooking accreditation award) and also to become a Michelin starred chef in the future. The School of Food has also helped me to get the ball rolling on this. Through the programme I have been taught key skills in a range of areas which include butchery, fish mongering and desserts which I have been able to perfect during my apprenticeship.”
Elliott points out that The School of Food doesn’t only teach students to cook – it also helps them in many other aspects of their career.
He said: “I have received a large amount of support from The School of Food. Not only are my college tutors at every practical session, but they offer great support on the theory too which has really developed my knowledge.
“The School of Food has also supported me with my functional skills (English, maths and ICT). This would have been a real struggle for me without their help.”