Chef Patron, Tredwells
Last year, I became involved with Springboard, a fantastic charity that helps young people achieve their potential and supports the unemployed of any age into work in the hospitality sector.
This year, Springboard has invited me back to judge its FutureChef competition. The competition is for young, budding chefs aged 12 – 16 to showcase their skills and get a taste of what it’s like to be a professional chef. Without hesitation, I jumped at the chance to be part of the initiative again.
The competition is made up of 4 stages. The candidates start in their schools and create their own dishes. As they move through the local and regional finals, the challenge and standard increases. The final stage will be held at Westminster Kingsway College and the judging panel will be made up of both industry and renowned chefs. The winner gets the chance to experience a professional service, meet well known chefs and receive lots of prizes.
Inspiring the next generation of chefs is something I feel very strongly about it. When I was younger, I feel there wasn’t the option to pursue a vocational career and so going to university was my only choice. I am a firm believer that university isn’t for everyone and apprenticeships should be held in the same regard as academic pursuits. Now more than ever, we need talented, young people to consider other options like chef apprenticeships to help to fill the skills gap. The hospitality sector is crying out for the next generation to pave the way for the future of British cuisine.
For over a year now, 15 year old Emily has visited the Tredwells kitchen every Saturday morning to help the chefs. Her bright energy and passion rubs off on all of us and it is a pleasure to have her in the kitchen. Even though Emily’s school is not taking part in the competition, it is still possible for her to enter as an independent candidate, which I am encouraging her to do.
As a judge, I will be looking for a chef who is organised, shows a good work ethic and knows that with food, less is more. Most of all I am looking for a passion for cooking and a great attitude towards the competition.
I encourage all young foodies to enter. Competitions are a great way to get into a professional kitchen. It’s how I embarked on my career in London.