Connor Thomas studied mechanics at college but wanted to try something new – he always loved cooking, so thought of giving it a go as a profession.
Connor's culinary adventure began at Chertsey – Compass Group’s head office, where he initially explored the food development aspect of the industry. Over a six-month Kickstarter programme, he gained valuable insights that surpassed his initial expectations. This experience served as a crucial steppingstone in his career, providing him with a solid foundation to build upon as he became an apprentice chef at Payne and Gunter in December 2022.
Connor praised Compass’s approach to the Kickstarter programme, stating that it “prepped me so well to enter Compass as an apprentice.” Balancing the theoretical aspect of college once a week, the rest of his time is practical hands-on learning. As a student, Connor approaches each task as an opportunity to learn, viewing every aspect of his role as a valuable lesson.
In his apprenticeship role, Connor collaborates with a team of skilled chefs who guide him. Working alongside three to four main chefs (and occasionally more depending on the event size), he tackles various responsibilities including extensive prep work leading up to the events. On the day of an event, Connor showcases his skills by skilfully plating dishes, ensuring an exceptional dining experience for the guests. The fast-paced environment means that sometimes in five days, three events need to be prepped, cooked and plated. The pressure to deliver top-quality meals under tight deadlines keeps Connor on his toes, and he thrives in this dynamic environment.
Working at Payne and Gunter has showed Connor the huge opportunities available within Compass Group UK & I. Discovering the sheer scale and potential for career growth within the company has been an eye-opening experience for him. Recognising the vast potential for personal and professional development, Connor’s advice to others is “Compass is so big with so many networks and communities to help you thrive and push you forward. Just give it a go and you’ll see how there are no limits to what you can achieve.”
For more information on Our Social Promise visit: Our Social Promise | Compass Group UK&I (compass-group.co.uk)