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Life as an Apprentice

Tuesday, 06 March 2018
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I am Ariane, an apprentice within The Chester Grosvenor’s Simon Radley Kitchen Academy. This is my experience of life inside the kitchen... 

The Kitchen Academy, standing proudly in its 6th year, has truly given its apprentices, like me, a stable learning and working platform. Headed up by Michelin starred Simon Radley himself, it is ran by extremely talented chefs from around the world who nurture apprentices and make them strive to be the best they can be. 

Knowing that I would like to take on a culinary career, I applied for this apprenticeship straight out of high school. Before long, I found myself working in a loud and busy kitchen, which was definitely a change of scene for me! Once I knew I wanted to be a chef, I wanted to learn with the best so I enquired through my teachers at school who pointed me in the direction of The Chester Grosvenor. I was introduced to their Learning & Development Manager, who talked me through how the 18-month apprenticeship works, answered all my questions regarding ‘earn whilst you learn’ and arranged for me to meet with their preferred training provider Total People. I undertook an assessment was invited for an interview before I went back to The Chester Grosvenor for my working trial. The working trial shift was great, as it gave me an insight of what to expect and I loved it! 

The next step was being offered a place within with the sought after Simon Radley Kitchen Academy, I was thrilled! Once I had my start date, I attended the company induction and then I was officially a Commis Chef Apprentice. The first few weeks were hard work as it was all new, but with a positive mind-set and lots of support it started to click. Working with skilled chefs really did improve my own skills and helped me gain a lot of knowledge. I spent the initial 7 months of my apprenticeship within the main kitchen of the La Brasserie restaurant. I was lucky enough to work alongside the Head Chef, Sous Chef, Chef de Parties and Demi Chef de Parties build on my skills, from learning to how to chop vegetables to being able to assist with the plating of many types of dishes and starters.

I quickly learnt that communication is key within the workplace, and being an apprentice at The Chester Grosvenor really teaches you to improve your communication skills. You learn to have open conversations with your colleagues, especially during service time! (It does come in handy to get through the busy periods). It can be truly hard to work in a busy restaurant kitchen, but with the right people to train and guide you every step along the way, you do excel and certainly ‘Grow with Grosvenor’.

As an apprentice, you get a chance to move around the different sections in the kitchen to broaden your knowledge. 
After 7 months, I joined the Pastry team. Pattisserie was a completely new thing to me, I joined with only basic home baking knowledge. Now I am please to say that I have learned so much, from making mousses, cakes, scones, breads, and creating desserts. My main job is to help make the afternoon tea pastries for The Arkle Bar and Lounge; little eye catching cakes that are served for afternoon yea. Each morning my colleague and I prepare and decorate the cakes, making sure they are consistant looking and perfect, and all to be done in time for 12pm service. 

It’s not all about the pastries though... we prepare desserts for La Brasserie and the Michelin starred restaurant ‘Simon Radley at The Chester Grosvenor’, as well as banqueting. Everyone is stationed to different sections and is given jobs to do which complement each of our skill sets and stretches our knowledge. Working around each of the sections enabled me to gain experience in all aspects of the pastry kitchen within a 5 red star hotel. You may have seen Paul Hollywood’s ‘A Bakers Life’, recently broadcast on Channel 4 as Paul documented his career journey, which also began here at The Chester Grosvenor! 

Alongside the hands on experiences we get each day in the kitchen, where we learn from some of the best chefs in the business, we have assessments and work reviews from our assessors at Total People (at least once or twice a month). We plan assessments, have theory workshops such as Health and Safety and Food Safety, and take away work packs to study at home. All of this support provides us with the theory side of our course and gives us the criteria for the tests we have to successfully pass to complete the apprenticeship. 

Being an apprentice gives you a fantastic opportunity to learn, earn and gain valuable skills – I’d recommend it to anyone!