CareerScope Blog


Carl Ridsdale – FutureChef Alumni April 2018

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!


Inclusivity: ‘an intention or policy of including people who might otherwise be excluded or marginalized’

As a person I stand for inclusivity and accessibility, having grown up where I did I saw a lot of people having to climb out of their barriers and push themselves into opportunities that for some, were a given. Personally I am not a judgemental person – I try not to judge a person before I know them as often many, myself included, can put on a front and often really getting to know a person takes longer than one meeting. So why am I harping on about this?

Well recently I attended my first Springboard Social event and it got my wee brain ticking about this topic. In what other business would you find 22 people of all walks of life, different accents and colloquialisms, and job roles varying from the C.E.O to administrator rubbing shoulders dancing the cha cha slide together? Not many I reckon.

But that’s what Springboard is about to me, in our programmes we do not discriminate – we support all people from all walks of life of all ages. If you look at Future Chef we support all schools no matter their status, our Into Work Programmes – yes some are specific to groups of people for example Galvin’s Chance – but if you don’t qualify for that programme you will more than likely qualify for another – Hospitality Futures, Diageo Learning For Life, Inspire Work Experience.

The Springboard Charity’s message is – ‘Making a difference to people’s lives’ and I believe we do this – whether a 13 year old who doesn’t know what they want to do we provide experience, a person with a criminal conviction we provide a supportive, non-judgemental place for them to excel and gain new skills, for an 18 year old just leaving college who just needs a wee hand into industry we offer that hand.

I’ve only worked for Springboard for 6 months and when asked what I do now – I’ve struggled to describe it in just a few words with a concise message but after the team meeting it all came together for me. We are helping people and that is what connects us all from the top to bottom – we have inclusivity built into us, into our work ethic and practice. Not only does it make my job easier to work with likeminded people but to work for a business that has similar principals makes it even easier. So if like us you like to help people – or you think you need supporting please get in touch as I am sure there will be someone or something that can support you.

scotland team

By Andrea Hardy
Programme Manager

Mentoring - GEMS

As a programme manager, I facilitate a number of different Springboard Programmes, and I love all of them, but one that has resonated with me the most is possibly the GEMS (Graduate Education Mentoring Scheme) Programme. I finished my degree in 2014 and quite frankly it was one of the proudest moments of my life, for personal reasons completing my degree seemed like an impossible challenge and my dissertation… Well there were a lot of late nights typing with a can of energy juice only fingertips away (I do not advise this method if can be avoided!). 
Throughout my degree there were a lot of people I could ask for advice, my mum, my employers my lecturers and other students – but more often than not my questions would lead to more questions that those whom I asked, just didn’t have the answer to. I completed lots of work experience through my degree for lots of different companies, I did a lot of networking – made lots of acquaintances and lots of connections on Linkedin – but I never really had one person to ask the ‘daft’ questions, or obscure questions too or have someone challenge me as to why I was completing sporting event work experience when I have (still don’t) no interest in sport at all. I am incredibly lucky to have the support network that I do but I didn’t have that one person to call a mentor, until I moved down south and started working at the Royal Oak.  My mentors at the Royal Oak nurtured my professionalism, taught me about the industry and supported my ideas as well as questioning them – making sure I knew what I was doing before I finalised any decision. 
Many of the students undertaking a hospitality degree don’t follow their degree into industry, instead choosing to go elsewhere. The hospitality industry is full to the brim of interesting people, from all over the world, with different stories to tell and sometimes I think the stereotypes that hospitality has seemed to gain over the years masks the greatness of the industry!
By matching undergraduates to some of our industry leaders those stories and experiences can be shared, inspiring a whole new generation. The big bad world is a scary place for any person and for those completing degrees the world becomes their oyster. But with this new found freedom can come uncertainty, fear and anxiety but a mentor can guide, can answer questions, can support in those new situations. I know that if I had had an industry mentor early on in my degree I would’ve taken on more relevant work experience and perhaps found where my skills lie a little earlier in life.
Mentoring is a 2 way thing, for mentors mixing with a student who is perhaps 20 years their junior will show them a different way of thinking to. As well as this it will provide a new focus for their career and someone to inspire that will love to hear their stories. 
The GEMS programme is amazing and I am sure that the students that we support through this will be great. But I know Springboard would love to support more – but that’s where we need you. Whether you’re a student, a lecturer, a friend, an industry leader. If when reading this you’ve thought of someone that could benefit from this programme please ask them to get in touch with us – because we would love to help them!
By Andrea Hardy 
Programme Manager