Feeding In: Finding The Chefs Of The Future

The hospitality industry in the UK is feeling the impact of a serious staffing crisis. And yet, food is an essential and unifying thing for us humans, and we’re lucky in this country to have an economy and society where eating out is available as a treat. Feeding people is a privilege and there are some incredible jobs and career paths in the in the hospitality industry. You only have to look to some of our nation’s best-loved celebrities who are chefs, and their stories, to see what is possible. Here in Cornwall, thanks to our vibrant tourism sector and the incredible produce grown, caught and reared in the Duchy, there are even more of those opportunities.

But despite this, last summer there were a reported 176,000 job vacancies in pubs, hotels and restaurants around the UK – 13% of all job vacancies in the country at the time. At the start of this year, 94% of hospitality businesses were struggling to recruit. Perhaps this is down to the perception of commercial kitchens as shouty, stressful environments, the split shifts and different working hours (often termed ”antisocial”) common in the industry, or a lack of interest in food and cooking amongst school and college leavers. Whatever it is, I’m out to tackle all three and ensure that more young people consider cooking as not just an essential life skill, but an enjoyable and rewarding career.

Truro and Penwith College ‘Employer Week’

A few weeks ago I joined chefs, owners and experts from Cornwall’s hospitality sector at Truro and Penwith College’s annual ‘Employer Week’. Organised by the college’s Hospitality department and Hospitality Table Cornwall (part of the ESF Business Clusters project, which is part funded by the European Social Fund), the week is designed to inspire students, increase awareness of the variety of career opportunities in the sector, and raise their aspirations as they get to learn from and “rub shoulders with some of the biggest names in the industry” (their words, not mine!)

“This week will help give our students the time to interact with future employers and learn different styles of hospitality.”

Tony Duce, Hospitality Course Coordinator at Truro and Penwith College

Year 10 Experience Days

Towards the end of 2022 we welcomed eight Year 10 students from Richard Lander School in Truro to Philleigh Way for a part-day “Access To Hospitality” course, with a view to then offering this to other Cornish schools, colleges, and academies. Our aim is to offer a unique and vocationally focused opportunity to students who are interested in a career in food. Cornwall has a large and prosperous hospitality industry, and attracting, nurturing and retaining young talent is something that many of us in the industry are working to improve. Throughout the day we offered insights, tips and practical skills acquisition that students can take with them through further studies and vocational training, all whilst they cooked lunch for themselves and their accompanying teachers. Taking food lessons out of the school classroom can provide a memorable experience for these students that I hope will deepen their interest in pursuing a career in the industry.

“We had the pleasure of taking some of our GCSE students over to Philleigh Way Cookery School in December.

The students had a fantastic time. Rupert is a great teacher and someone who really inspires the younger generation of future chefs! Our students came away with better knowledge of how to knead a bread dough, how to combine flavours to create a range of dishes and used some fantastic knife skills. This benefits our students by giving them key skills that they can use in the classroom, preparing them for when they are choosing the dishes that they wish to create for their practical exam.
Philleigh Way really is special, and the work that Rupert is doing here, is at the heart of it all – he not only inspires the future generation of hospitality stars in Cornwall, but also their teachers – we all learnt a lot from the day, and this has ultimately helped change and mould the way we teach in the classroom – what could be better?

We would thoroughly recommend booking onto one of the courses with your students.”

Lynsey Toms, Head of Design & Technology (Fd/Tx/Cd/H&SC), Richard Lander School

We’re putting together the final touches to this offering before we make it available to other schools, but in the meantime if you are a teacher, school governor or parent who would like to find out about how we an do it for your school, please drop us an email.

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