Catering apprentices celebrate as Cambscuisine is named Catering Employer of the Year in annual awards organised by Cambridge Regional College. The awards are an opportunity to celebrate excellent employers and employees across the region.
Cambs Cuisine has five city centre restaurants and four traditional country pubs, including fine dining gastropub the Tickell Arms at Whittlesford.
Here, three of our catering apprentices say the passion for their careers was fired, thanks to being on the apprenticeship programme.
The trio says that earning while being in a real-world work setting has been perfect for their learning style.
Jordan Rowney, 20, hopes his chef skills will give him the option to travel, with an ultimate dream of owning his own Michelin star restaurant.
He said: “I had a part-time job in a hotel and the head chef asked if I fancied being kitchen porter. That’s when I got a taste for the life of a chef. I loved it. I began doing pastry and then had the chance of an apprenticeship.
“This way of learning means you are not on your own, you have the benefit of more experienced chefs and the background of classroom learning too.”
Reece Alderson, 21, also hopes to travel and become an established head chef. He said: “I studied catering at GCSE level and was entered into a regional contest by my school teachers which I enjoyed.
“Catering was the obvious next step study choice. However, full-time college was not for me. Being an apprentice was perfect as it meant I could progress working and earning while being in college one day a week.
“I have found my passion for catering. When I eat out I always taking notes and get menu ideas. Being a chef is hard work but great fun as a team too.”
George Dawkins-Ruiz, 20, has just finished his catering apprenticeship after starting life as a mechanic. He said: “I soon realised that mechanics was more of a hobby, so left the course and went for a job as a kitchen porter.
“Within three months the head chef offered a catering apprenticeship. I enjoy being able to earn money, get real-world experience with just one day a week at college. I learn hands-on things in the kitchen, backed up by the classroom support.”
J, Rees| Head of People Management at Cambscuisine, said: “Our vision at Cambscuisine is to grow the business through our people and by recruiting apprentices we are doing just that. We ensure that our apprentices emulate our values and behaviours, which grows them as an individual and alongside Cambridge Regional College we develop their skills and knowledge.
“As they are fresh into the industry we can coach and mentor from the outset to align with our standards and working practices, which enables us to have a pipeline of home-grown talent.
“Employment is high in and around Cambridge, therefore, it’s a win-win for both parties; the catering apprentices develop and gain on the job experience whilst we are filling a skills gap along with a joint knowledge sharing of new ideas.”
So, for three rising chefs what is their favourite dish to cook and eat?
Jordan – Preparing deer has been my best experience so far. It took four hours. My favourite thing to eat is mushroom risotto.
Reece – I like to create fish dishes. My favourite thing to eat is a rack of lamb.
George – I love cooking a rib-eye steak and my favourite thing to eat is steak tartare.