Chartwells launches Junior Chef Academy

Chartwells, part of Compass Group UK & Ireland, has launched a Junior Chef Academy that will see it deliver chef courses across ten schools for students aged 14-16, giving them a flavour of the skills needed to become a chef and promoting the opportunities available within a career in hospitality.

The courses, which are delivered by Chartwells’ culinary team, in partnership with Compass UK & Ireland’s Apprenticeship and Early Careers Team, officially launched last week with ten students attending an after-school class at Our Lady and St Chad Catholic Academy, in Wolverhampton.

The move clearly demonstrates the company’s ongoing commitment to enrich the learning of young students, supporting the National Food Strategy by providing practical sessions and information around food, while also promoting the opportunities available to those looking for a career in the hospitality industry.

The engaging ten-week course, which is free of charge, will run after-school hours during weekdays or over the weekend. Attending students will learn about key chef skills, such as knifework, before focusing on learning and developing dishes from a weekly theme, including bread and pizza, salads and healthy eating, and a meat masterclass, amongst others.

The course, which promotes sustainability, nutrition, good hygiene, and healthy eating practices, culminates in a celebratory graduation event, whereby the students demonstrate their new-found cookery skills at a three-course dinner event, attended by special guests.

Andrew Walker, Culinary Director, Chartwells, expanded, “This course is not a flash in the pan, it gives students an in-depth understanding and experience of the skills needed to become a chef.

'We need to be doing more as an industry to promote the fantastic opportunities that exist within hospitality and hopefully this course will create a spark of excitement within students that leads to a fulfilling career in the kitchen.”

Miss L Craig, Principal at Our Lady and St Chad Catholic Academy, remarked, “The level of engagement from the students was amazing and the atmosphere in the room was electrifying. It was simply outstanding to see the commitment to learning in the room, all under the guidance of industry experts.

'The skills learned over this course will be fundamentally valuable to our students, across many aspects of their lives, irrespective of whether they pursue a culinary career.”

Jonathan Foot, Head of Apprenticeships and Early Careers, Compass UK & Ireland, said, “As a business, we’re dedicated to enriching the learning of young people across the country.

'This course demonstrates that this focus is not limited to serving nutritious and delicious meals, but also fuelling the inspiration of the next generation of chefs and sharing our insight and expertise during a crucial time in their development.

'This course will not only add great value to the students who undertake it, but it also forms part of our overarching strategy to champion a career with Chartwells, and the wider Compass UK & Ireland, providing a direct path onto our apprenticeships and career pathway programmes for students who wish to take the next step.”

The course has been made possible by a series of sponsors and supporters including City of Portsmouth College; Stoke on Trent College; Brakes; Lockhart; Harvest Fine Foods; Nisbets; and John Sheppard Butchers.