An industry-standing ovation for CH&CO’s apprentices

An industry-standing ovation for CH&CO’s apprentices

On 19th November 2018, the kitchens at the Royal Garden Hotel became the workplace for a team of apprentices from CH&CO’s Chefs Academy. The up-and-coming chefs, who work across CH&CO’s diverse business, were selected to be part of the brigade delivering the gala menu for the annual awards event.

With excitement, a tinge of nerves and a desire to learn and grow, they seized the fantastic opportunity ahead of them: to work with the highly-respected Steve Munkley, the Royal Garden Hotel’s executive chef, and to experience the thrill and pressure of fine dining on a large scale.

The varied apprenticeship programme offered by CH&CO’s Chefs Academy is designed to inspire the next generation of chefs. Building apprentices’ experience and confidence by working in different professional kitchens, and taking on challenges as they gain recognised professional qualification, is an important part of their development, and this event certainly ticked these boxes.

Ones to watch
The seven talented apprentices that showed off their skills and flair and impressed the audience of chefs and industry professionals (who some would argue are the toughest critics of all!) were: Desire Aduko, Eddy Yovo, Jonatan Sanchez, Tyrone Campbell, Patricia Pascoe, Peter Kostur and Lucy Hayman.

Terry Waldron, CH&CO’s COO, said: “Investing in our people and helping them grow professionally and personally is very important. What a fantastic experience this was for our apprentice chefs. The overall objective was to build their confidence and give them the platform to really push themselves, while also learning new skills. The event and apprentices certainly delivered!”

Steve Oram, who heads up CH&CO’s Chefs Academy, added: “We’re incredibly proud of the apprentices. Some of them put themselves forward to be part of the team, and others were chosen because of the tremendous impact it would have on their development. 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, we couldn’t ask for more.

“One of the toughest tasks as a chef is cooking for other chefs and industry colleagues, so we knew there was added pressure because of the audience, but they all took it in their stride. And the result was a superb dinner that received rave reviews from the room and on social media.”
The apprentices were given responsibility for specific courses and they were supported by CH&CO senior chefs and mentors Oram, who is people development manager (culinary), and Jim Wealands, group food development director, as well as Munkley.

On the starters were Desire Aduko and Eddie Yovo who produced a babycino, parsnip velouté, honey mousse, autumn mushrooms, cep doughnut. The main course was created by Patricia Pascoe, Jonatan Sanchez and Tyrone Campbell with their braised ox cheek and roast sirloin with horseradish dumplings, kale, carrots, leeks and creamed potatoes. And Lucy Hayman and Peter Kostur’s dessert of deconstructed lemon meringue pie provided the perfect finish to an excellent menu.

Everyone was extremely impressed by the apprentices and their incredible menu, from the flavour combinations and balance through to its execution. H2O’s managing director Jamie Robbins said: “It really was five-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!”

What an experience
You only need to look at the smiles on the faces of the apprenticeship in the photographs to see how much they enjoyed the experience and working with the Royal Garden Hotel team.

Pasco said: “It was such an amazing thing to do. If you’d said at the start of my apprenticeship that I’d be working on an awards dinner for 400 people at a top London hotel, I would never have believed it. But I’ve done it! I learned so much and met some incredible chefs. It definitely boosted my skills and my confidence.”

Hayman added: “The atmosphere in the kitchen was electric. It was such an exciting experience. It was also nerve-wracking, as we knew our food was being eaten by well-known chefs and people from our own business. The added pressure made us more determined to do well. When we were brought onto stage and saw everyone on their feet, it was overwhelming. We knew then we’d done a good job and that’s such a great feeling.”

A bright future
The magnificent seven have continued their development with CH&CO’s Chefs Academy, with added knowledge, skills, experience and confidence. They are working towards their end-point assessments and CH&CO looks forward to celebrating their graduations later this year. After graduation they will go on to work within the business and they will have the opportunity to continue their development and progress their careers through its people and development programmes.

Oram said: “Since the event, the seven chefs have been focused on completing their apprentices and I have no doubt that they will do very well. Once they graduate, they will continue to work in the business and I hope that they continue their development path with the learning opportunities and qualifications available to them.”

Waldron added: “It’s clear that the experience of working at the prestigious Royal Garden Hotel for the FSM Awards was hugely beneficial for the apprentices. We’re very grateful to the event organisers and Steve Munkley and his team for sharing our vision and making it possible.”
“CH&CO will continue to showcase its Chefs Academy at industry events throughout 2019. Investing in young and up-and-coming talent is something the business 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.”

Oram concluded: “Since the event, my phone hasn’t stopped ringing with a team of eager apprentice chefs all wanting to know when the next event is and if can they be involved. We will certainly be repeating this fantastic experience and giving more apprentices the chance to boost their development in such an exciting and beneficial way.”

The menu

Babycino, parsnip velouté, honey mousse, autumn mushrooms, cep doughnut

Braised ox cheek and roast sirloin with horseradish dumplings, kale, carrots, leeks and creamed potatoes

Deconstructed lemon meringue pie

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