So, FutureChef. It’s a massive competition, massive reach and huge numbers of participants (12,000 in 2018)… but where do all these participants go?
Well, today I went to meet one of the West Midlands National Finalists from a few years back to see how he was getting on.
Off I went in my wee car, following the Sat Nav to a village not far from where I live, to be met by Hampton Manor. Hampton Manor is a country estate – a beautiful country estate. I felt like a princess, except for maybe the fact I was driving a Suzuki Swift and not a horse drawn carriage!
Hampton Manor has 1 Michelin star and 4 Rosettes – the first restaurant in Birmingham to have such – and our FutureChef alumnus, Carl, works here.
I am already in awe of this place, and of Carl. He is only 19, and is already working in a place with an amazing reputation and the recommendations to match. But my amazement doesn’t stop here – Carl himself is a truly outstanding young man.
I was taken to the kitchen by a lovely receptionist, to meet Carl, who at the time was making ice cream. Without even batting an eyelid, he was holding a full-blown conversation with me and making ice cream that smelled divine. Oh, and by the way – FutureChef has a habit of ruining programme managers’ diets.
Carl has recently completed his Level 3 Professional Cookery Apprenticeship with UCB, and is now a full time Demi-Chef de Partie – and one with incredible ambition. Carl hopes to travel around Europe, learning key skills from the best in the business. He would like to go to France to learn traditional French cooking methods, to Germany for butchery, to Switzerland to learn chocolatier skills and so on. He does this so that, one day, he can come back to England and start to climb the chef ladder. Eventually, Carl would like to run his own business, and although he’s still unsure of which cuisine style it’ll have, I can guarantee the food would be amazing!
Carl gave me a tour of Hampton Manor, explaining that he had worked both in the banqueting kitchen, and in the restaurant kitchen. This has given him extensive knowledge of the entire manor – which is a restaurant with rooms, not a hotel with a restaurant. The pride oozing out of him when he spoke about the manor was tangible.
We returned to the kitchen, where we continued to discuss his aims and ambitions, what service was like and what his role is and how he will develop at the Hampton Manor. During this time, Carl was tempering chocolate – making it look incredibly easy – but with my habit of burning beans, I think I will leave it to him. The chocolate would be used for the little mouthfuls of heaven that they serve in their afternoon tea (another way it ruins diets), in a cookie and cream chocolate that genuinely tasted like you were dipping chocolate chip cookies in a glass of milk!
I asked Carl, what he would say to someone thinking about doing FutureChef and his simple response was ‘Do it. I wouldn’t be where I was if it wasn’t for FutureChef. Before the competition I couldn’t fillet a fish, the competition taught me so much and I would not be where I am without it’.
Still contemplating whether FutureChef is the right (free) resource for your school? Don’t ask yourself what have you got to lose – ask yourself ‘what could I gain from taking part in FutureChef?’ The answer? Well, you’ll need to take part to find that out!