River Cottage launches chefs apprenticeship scheme

River Cottage has launched a new apprenticeship scheme aimed at providing opportunities for young people looking to secure a catering job.

The Young Chef Apprenticeship Scheme has been set up by the Professional Cookery School and will see River Cottage training and certifying young people so that they can progress into catering jobs in the southwest.

The team at River Cottage will be responsible for the education and assessment of the young apprentices, before awarding them with a diploma in professional cooking.

Commenting on the scheme, the company’s Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall said: “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.”

River Cottage claims that the scheme has already seen “significant interest” from various 16 to 19 year-olds who are keen to gain the qualification, which is supported by government funding and allows them to earn while they learn.

Once the apprentices complete the course, they will be challenged to put their skills to the test by taking part in a cook-off with River Cottage’s own chefs.

With just 40 places available, the company states the scheme is likely to be oversubscribed during its first year.

The course is the latest initiative from the Professional Cookery School, which was set up to educate those in chefs jobs about culinary arts, as well as the importance of sustainability and seasonality.

"We are able to support our local restaurants and hotels by training young people that, in the future, will become the backbone of their culinary brigades,” added Chris Griffin, head of education at River Cottage.

“We can help to build on the great food culture in [the] southwest, ensuring there are the craft skills locally to continue, and hopefully grow the reputation of uncompromising food quality.”

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