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Investing in the nation’s future chefs

Nick Vadis, Culinary Director - Compass Group UK & Ireland

Our food tastes great. And that’s not just because we put plenty of time and care into creating something delicious. It tastes great, because it is great. Preparing and cooking our unbeatable food are our award-winning chefs – each one experts in their field.

We breed culinary excellence; each year we scoop hundreds of prestigious culinary awards and we run Michelin starred and AA Rosetted restaurants. We support our chefs in achieving professional qualifications. So to ensure we continue our talent pipeline from our Chef Academy apprentices to Executive Chefs, we have career development pathways and opportunities to support all our cooking colleagues.

We are so proud of the culinary family we have created and we want to get as many keen, young chefs as possible to experience it. However, cooking as a vocation often passes by the radar of the UK’s young population, meaning the industry could be missing out on the next Michel Roux Jr. or Jason Atherton. So we decided to bring the wonder of cooking to colleges up and down the country through a series of courses designed to ignite the chef fire inside the bellies of young pupils with a passion for cooking.

Our Junior Chef Academy courses are comprised of ten sessions held on Saturday mornings. Through the ten weeks students learn basic culinary skills such as preparing and cooking vegetables, meat and fish, salads and basic dessert, as well as kitchen safety and food hygiene. This free course culminates in the students working to cook a graduation three-course lunch during their final session, which sees participants design and create a menu for their guests.  

We recently held a sponsored course at Hertford Regional College, concluding in March earlier this year. Twelve students from a number of surrounding schools attended the sessions, increasing their culinary knowledge and skills. After the graduation lunch, we presented each participant with a certificate, to reward them for their achievement. We also took the opportunity to present to the young chefs and their parents about the potential career opportunities in this exciting industry.

Sponsoring the Junior Chef Academy is a great way to get young people involved in food and cooking at an early age. Becoming a chef is an exciting career, with lots of potential avenues and options to explore. Our Junior Chef Academy is one way that we’re hoping to get cooking on young peoples’ radars, to help us nurture the keen talent out there.

Further Junior Chef Academy courses are taking place at Highbury College Portsmouth, Basingstoke, Bournemouth, Lewisham and Southdowns – with more planned for the future.  

For more information on the Junior Chef Academy visit https://www.compass-group.co.uk/join-the-family/careers/chefs/junior-chef-academy/


Junior Chef Academy young chefs after their graduation lunch
Plates, prepared wholly by the Junior Chef Academy chefs, ready for service
Young chefs working hard