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Yes, Chef! Our apprentices cook up a storm

Jonathan Foot, Head of Apprenticeships and Early Careers, Compass Group UK & Ireland

It has been a summer of incredible experiences for our Compass apprentices, with unforgettable workshops, events and award ceremonies taking place all over the country.

When we launched our regional apprenticeship programmes, our aim was to deliver an industry-leading, aspirational career pathways structure, offering unique opportunities for skills development and progression. We were thrilled to have the first such event take place in Scotland, with seven Compass UK & Ireland apprentice chefs joining a selection of Master Chefs to cook for the first Master Chefs of Great Britain regional event of the year.

The event took place at the Old Course Resort and Spa in St Andrews, with Master Chefs Martin Hollis, Graham Singer, Shona Sutherland, David Auchie and Barry Fleming. The senior Chefs supported the apprentices to create a delicious lunch centred on seafood and sustainability, using only local Scottish produce. It was a fantastic experience for our apprentices, cooking intricate and flavoursome dishes at a prestigious event, for some of the best chefs in Great Britain.

Following the event, the apprentices went to Peterhead to visit one of our suppliers, Amity Fish, to see the full fish process, from ship to Chef. They got to see fish coming in fresh from the fishing boats; learned about life on the seas while on board a fishing vessel; visited the fish market and finished the morning in the processing factory where they were shucking scales, and grading monkfish. The day finished with a Fish Masterclass with Compass Scotland’s Culinary Director, Graham Singer, allowing them to learn specialist skills while cooking the fresh fish from the morning.

Meanwhile in Wales, the culinary apprenticeships kicked off with a workshop with Bryn Williams in the kitchens of the iconic Principality Stadium. Bryn took the apprentices through the importance of seasonality while preparing stunning dishes, including baked scallops and marinated and grilled mackerel.

For our culinary apprentices, hands-on training, like this workshop, is key and getting the chance to learn from esteemed chefs like Bryn Williams is a wonderful opportunity.

The workshop was followed by a big win for two of our Compass Cymru apprentices at the Cambrian Training Awards 2021, with Alastair Robert-Jones winning Foundation Apprentice of the year and Stuart Wooles crowned Apprentice Chef of the year – as well as a win for Compass Group UK & Ireland for Macro Apprenticeship Employer of the Year. This was such a proud moment for both of the apprentices and for the full team here too. 

It has been amazing to see the transformation in our apprentices so far. Already they’re learning new skills and are growing in confidence; and being able to take part in these extra special events – and win awards - has given them a real boost and sense of immense pride.

But don’t just take my word for it! Here’s what Compass Cymru apprentice, Alastair Jones and Compass Scotland apprentice, Chris MacLeod, have to say about their recent experiences:

Alastair Jones: “Undertaking the apprenticeship has been life changing for me. I have learnt so many new skills and techniques, which has made me love every single minute of my journey.

“Through my apprenticeship, I have gained a promotion after learning the skills I need to progress in the business. I am now training the junior members of the team to fill my old position and then looking to take over my role, so that I can continue to progress through the ranks and make my career change a perfect outcome.”

Chris MacLeod adds: “To help and support such a superb lunch for the Master Chefs of Great Britain was a real privilege. It was fantastic to gain more knowledge from senior team leads Graham, David, Barry and Shona, who are always willing to pass down their skills and experiences. They really are the inspiration and excitement behind the next generation of chefs!”

We also welcomed our first cohort onto the ‘Forward with Marcus Wareing’ programme in collaboration with esteemed chef, Marcus Wareing. 15 ambitious chefs from across Compass in England started their journey at the end of August, and things are off to a fantastic start.

It’s been a busy few months and it’s been great to see such success across the board. Our aim is to ensure the next generation of talent is nurtured and retained, and what better way to do that than to inspire them and ignite their passion further?

Apprentices at Master Chefs of Great Britain Lunch