This week marked the end of what has been a highly engaging and hugely successful 12-month Chef School programme for Kew Green Hotels. The programme was designed to not only give the participants an accredited qualification in conjunction with HIT Training, but also real hands-on experience in a working kitchen environment which will help them to further their careers.
Chefs in Chef de Partie roles across our estate, were invited to participate in Chef School from across our portfolio of 56 hotels including Holiday Inn, Holiday Inn Express, Crowne Plaza, Hilton Hotels & Resorts, Courtyard by Marriott and independently branded hotels.
In March 2017 we received over 25 of applications from talented chefs across our estate and these were whittled down to the 12 highly promising individuals who have undertaken workshops throughout the past year. These workshops have been supported by highly experienced industry professionals as well as influencers from within our business, including our Director of F&B Operations, Matthew Collins and Dean Crews, our Group Executive Chef.
“My vision for Chef School began as a result of my passion for teaching, developing and encouraging our Chefs to move along in the industry. The Kew Green Chef School is unique, it’s fun and acknowledges that one size does not fit all. Having a controlled environment allows us to spend time with each Chef, providing them with the skills they personally need to make them a future leader.” Matthew Collins, Director of Food & Beverage.
The Kew Green Chef School programme consists of learning in key focus areas such as game, fish, vegetables etc. and activities which immerse learners in experiences outside of their normal day to day job roles, such as abattoir and farm visits and a trip to the coast to fillet fish at its source. The programme also equips our up and coming Chefs in the commercial aspects of the profession, including – buying and costing ingredients, menu construction and inventory management.
Dean Crews, Group Executive Chef for Kew Green Hotels explained “I truly believe the commercial skills are as much part of the modern chef skillset as fish filleting and stock making. Within the programme we also arrange farm visits, abattoir tours, full size carcass demos and much more. These extra activities are what makes the Kew Green Chef School special; we want our chefs to connect the dots from the start of a product to the guest experience but also to understand both ends of the industry and what happens along the way.”
This year’s programme culminated in an intensive two-day ‘MasterChef-style’ competition, held at Norwich City College and which gave our learners the opportunity to showcase their culinary development over the past 12 months.
Our contestants this year, greeted the first competition day with much anticipation as they prepared for the event they’d been waiting for and working towards over the previous 12 months. Each chef, focused in their approach, retired for an early night ahead of an early start on the following day. With pots, pans, ingredients and methodical notes neatly packed for their showcase dishes, each designed, costed and executed by them alone, they headed for the college.
Creativity brimming, they completed 4 courses: Starter, Main, Dessert and their Innovation Dish – Bread. All of the dishes created surpassed our expectations. Each one was innovative/ingenious/intuitive in design, beautifully accomplished and a personal expression of the skills they’d acquired throughout the programme as well as their own personal flare for cuisine. The day ended with a total 48 highly imaginative dishes to be tasted by our 6 expert judges – a task our judges took on gleefully!
Ian Byrne – Talent Development Manager, who manages the Chef School initiative for Kew Green and has supported participants throughout the programme explained: “Our Chef learners have received ongoing assessment as part of our Chef School, through showcasing specials in their hotels and reporting back on costs, feedback from guests and sales figures. The Chef School finals cook-off not only tested their skills and knowledge, but also how they coped in a timed environment cooking for a team of expert judges.
The Chef School learners will graduate with their peers on Thursday 19th April and the winner of the competition will be presented with their award, which includes the opportunity to spend time working in one of the UK’s top restaurants.
As the Chef School year comes to a close, Kew Green are on the lookout for our next intake of aspiring chefs. We’re pulling out all the stops to try and exceed the incredibly high quality of Chefs we’ve produced this year. Here at Kew Green, we aren’t concerned with where you have started your career as a Chef, as much as your passion for developing your culinary skills and a passion to succeed.
“Our Chef School development programme is a great opportunity for our Chefs to experience new things, add new skills to their repertoire and share ideas with their peers. At Kew Green Hotels, we are committed to ensuring chefs receive unrivalled opportunities for development and progression. Next year, we are excited to take our Chef School further, to incorporated three levels designed from Commis through to Head Chef level.” Natasha Nagra, Talent Resourcing Manger, Kew Green Hotels.