Name: Ben Deegan
Placement: Kitchen Manager, Mitchells & Butlers
Apprenticeship: Mitchell Butlers Team Member apprenticeship
Ben was hired back in 2015, first working in a front-of-house role before realising his true calling was in one of our busy kitchens. Through utilising four apprenticeships, Ben has been promoted five times in five years, from Team Member to Kitchen Manager – an outstanding achievement that we think deserves to be shouted about.
“What drew me to M&B was the fact they were willing to give me, a young lad with zero experience in the sector, a chance to learn and progress.”
A year after joining the team, Ben was offered the opportunity to take a Level 2 Food Production and Cooking Apprenticeship, which he grabbed with both hands. Wanting to push himself that bit further, in 2017, Ben progressed to Level 2 Team Leader, and this role gave him the confidence to support his team and the experience to spot the ways that Kitchen Managers can handle the heat in the kitchen.
“My first General Manager stands out for me because he encouraged me to join the apprentice scheme, and because he gave me the chance to work at M&B to begin with. I have my second General Manager, Kirsty Hartley, to thank for pushing me to be better, encouraging me to carry on learning, and instilling confidence in me. And lastly, my most recent General Manager, who believed in me enough to promote me to Kitchen Manager, and always showing me that I should never give up.”
It was this level of support from his managers that spurred Ben on to start our internal Chefs’ Academy Level 2 Commis Chef Apprenticeship in 2018. The scheme involves masterclasses where our team get to work with fresh food and grow their classical knowledge of cooking outside the workplace.
While it’s a common myth about kitchen careers that most chefs are classically trained, the kitchen assistants, chefs, head chefs and kitchen managers at M&B dedicate a lot of time towards honing their craft. Ben knew he wanted to keep refining his cooking skills and is now currently working towards completing his Level 3 Senior Production Chef Apprenticeship which has supported his recent promotion to Kitchen Manager at The Hollybrook. In an industry up against the challenges of Covid-19 and a talent crisis, Ben’s is a resounding success story.
“My advice would be to take that opportunity! It might be a challenge to balance your work with your learning at some points, but the trainers are patient, and the reward is worth it. You may not be in your job role forever, but you will always have your qualification to hold on to.”
If you’re thinking about an apprenticeship and you’re looking for advice, who’s better to take it from than Ben, who is on track to complete his fourth!
We spoke to Paul Egan, Ben’s current Area Manager, to find out what impact he’s had at the company. Paul said, “Ben is a superb individual with a calm manner and supportive attitude, who always embraced the apprenticeship programme. He was selected to cook for the Pubs Division Annual Pride Awards Dinner and has not taken a step backwards since. I’m so proud of how he has applied himself to achieve his goals. Ben truly leads by example – stunning!”
Another manager of Ben’s told us “Ben’s dedication to his learning, progression and The Hollybrook is inspirational. Ben was of tremendous support to me after both lockdowns. During the first, I had a bereavement so was away from the business. Ben went above and beyond to get the business Covid-secure and ready for re-opening. During the second re-opening, Ben was here every day for three weeks, helping get our outside areas and even painting the staff room so the team had a nice space to enjoy.”
The glowing reports from Ben’s managers are a testament to the hard work he’s put in ever since his first day with us. They highlight the change Ben has undergone throughout these apprenticeships, including a massive improvement in his communication, leadership, confidence and kitchen skills – all important transferrable skills you pick up working in hospitality.
As Ben puts it, you might change roles throughout your career, but completing an apprenticeship means you’ll always have that qualification to hold up proudly.
Check out our apprenticeships and learn more about the opportunities that will not only give you a certificate to hold up proudly, but you’ll also develop key skills that will see you through life and make lifelong friendships. Whether you’re looking for a chef apprenticeship like Ben, fancy exploring bar and waiting apprenticeships, or know that a management apprenticeship is your calling, we’ve got something for you.