Producing the best Production Chefs
There was a time that working in catering in large institutional kitchens – for schools, hospitals, retirement homes, chain eateries – used to be the preserve of the part-time chef, often a parent who was used to cooking at home and wanted a bit of extra cash.
Although the cooks might be competent, the results were sometimes unappealing: many of us still shiver when recalling school dinners of yesteryear.
But that is all changing.
“Nowadays, things are becoming much more professional, and those involved in working in this environment need to have a much wider skill-base,” comments Jenny Scott, of Swatpro Academy.
The Exeter-based training specialist has just begun offering the new Apprenticeship Standards level 2 Production Chef qualification.
Jenny, who has extensive experience working and training others in large kitchen environments, is delighted to be the Academy’s lead trainer on this course.
“I’ve a real passion for passing on best practice and watching apprentices grow and develop the skills that will last them a lifetime,” she says.
“I worked as a chef in a pub, before moving on to schools and eventually being in charge of catering for 11 primaries. You could say this apprenticeship is right up my street”.
The apprenticeship is aimed at anyone who works as part of a team in a time-bound catering environment.
This could mean a busy pub kitchen, or something as regimented as catering for a military messroom.
All aspects of food preparation and cookery are covered, but the new Standard takes a closer overview of the job.
“These days, customers are more demanding, inspections more stringent, standards are higher,” Jenny notes.
“The apprenticeship covers things like health and safety, proper storage, a knowledge of nutrition, a knowledge of specialist and religious diets and specific allergy information.
“There are also modules on the business side of running a kitchen, working as a team, customer service, and professional compliance,” she adds.
All the ingredients add up to making production chef work a career rather than just an “in-between” job.
“Those who wish to progress up the career ladder can move on to taking a Senior Production Chef Apprenticeship Standard. It really can be a pathway to a fulfilling vocation,” Jenny observes.
The apprentices work as usual at their place of employment and get a regular visit from Jenny for one-to-one tuition and guidance, with end-of-phoneline help available at other times.
Undertaking all the necessary modules will take at least a year, with an end-point assessment based on a discussion followed by observation in the workplace.
“It’s a delight to be there, helping people gain new skills, gain confidence and progress,” Jenny adds.
“And from an employer’s point of view, not only does it leave them with a more skilful worker, but it builds morale and can help with staff retention.”
Swatpro Academy have built their reputation on experience and flexibility, and benefit from being part of the wider Swatpro network of training specialists.
“Swatpro give us the foundation on which we can offer the training we give. Their advice and encouragement is second-to-none,” Jenny concludes.