Chef launches mission to find cookery stars of future
RIVER Cottage has launched a Young Chef Apprenticeship Scheme in an effort to find the next generation of culinary stars.
The programme – unveiled during National Apprenticeship Week – is the latest initiative to come out of the recently formed professional cookery school, which was created to educate cooks and chefs in culinary arts, whilst focusing on the importance of sustainability, seasonality and ethical food procurement.
The Young Chef Apprenticeship Scheme will see River Cottage training and certificating young people for the benefit of restaurants and hotels in the South West. These businesses will employ the apprentices, with the River Cottage team being responsible for their education, assessment and finally awarding them with their Diploma in Professional Cookery.
There has already been significant interest from 16 to 19-year-olds excited about the opportunity to gain access to a qualification which is supported by government funding and therefore free to all successful applicants.
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This, combined with the chance to 'earn whilst they learn' and to get qualified with River Cottage, is proving to be very appealing.
River Cottage founder Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall said: "There has been a renaissance in British restaurant cookery in recent years, not just in terms of the style of cooking and techniques now being employed, but also, more crucially in my view, in the approach of chefs to sourcing their food, embracing good provenance, and choosing their recipe.
"With the River Cottage Young Chef Apprenticeship scheme, we aim to strike while the iron is hot, helping to bring even more change and innovation in this area."
The broadcaster, writer and campaigner added: "We'll be guiding our trainees in all the issues at which River Cottage excels: seasonality, ethical and local sourcing, regional ingredients and traditional, hands-on techniques.
"It's a new step for us that I'm very excited about: after all, if we can inspire and inform the up-and-coming chefs of the UK, and beyond, they in turn can delight thousands, maybe even millions, of diners, all over the world."
Chris Griffin, head of education at River Cottage, added: "This scheme is important for a number of reasons; we are providing employment for those that may have struggled to find similar opportunities in the South West.
"We are able to support our local restaurants and hotels by training young people who, in the future, will become the backbone of their culinary brigades. Finally, we can help to build on the great food culture in the South West, ensuring there are the craft skills locally to continue, and hopefully grow the reputation of uncompromising food quality."
With just under 40 places currently available, early indications suggest that the scheme will be oversubscribed in its first year. However, all 16 to 19-year-olds with a passion for cooking are encouraged to apply by visiting www.rivercottage.net/apply
The application window closes at midnight on Monday, April 8.
In addition, all applicants have the opportunity to enter a competition which will see one lucky winner offered the chance to work for a year at Park Farm and become the face of the 2013/14 River Cottage Young Chefs Apprenticeship Scheme.
When their apprenticeship is complete, they will put their new skills to the test in the ultimate culinary battle, a cook-off with the chefs at River Cottage. Details can be found at www.rivercottage.net/win