Since 2014, 8 City College Catering students have been awarded coveted places in the Exclusive Chefs’ Academy, a two-year life-changing training programme from Exclusive Hotels and Venues. Each year, following a rigorous selection process, 12 places are awarded to the most impressive candidates from chef and catering colleges and universities across the UK. Designed to tackle the challenges of chef recruitment and retention head on, the Academy takes the chefs on an intensive two-year journey under the mentor and leadership of Exclusive’s award-winning chefs.
City College’s George Martin was part of the Academy’s first intake and started his journey as a Commis Chef based at the 5-star South Lodge Hotel. In the first year, the programme involved him working his way around all the kitchen sections and he began making his mark as a very talented chef. One of the Academy’s youngest recruits, George immediately made the most of the learning opportunities offered through chef masterclasses and by visiting the sources of the great British ingredient – the producers.
By the end of his first year, he’d easily made the grade to become a Demi Chef de Partie and was placed in the second year of the programme at the Michelin-starred kitchen at The Manor House, Castle Combe. George thrived in his new environment and impressed the Head Chef and the team with his hard work and attention to detail. He sailed through his second year at the Academy and would proudly take every opportunity to show off his skills to his peers.
Nearing the end of the two-year programme, as a final test for all Academy chefs to prove their worth, they have to apply for a Chef de Partie position, either in the kitchen they work in or in another Exclusive hotel kitchen. George chose to apply for a position back in the kitchen at South Lodge, where it had all begun.
“A lot of Head Chefs think it’s unrealistic to expect a young chef just out of college to be transformed into a Chef de Partie in just two years but I’d seen enough talent and ability in George to believe he could prove the doubters wrong,” says Andy Mackenzie, Executive Chef of the Exclusive Chefs’ Academy. “After George’s working interview, I asked Johnny Spires, the Head Chef that took him through his interview, to give me a call to let me know how he’d got on. When I got the call, I was delighted to hear Johnny say that he would have no hesitation in employing George as a Chef De Partie in his kitchen. Not only that, he told me that George had come back to South Lodge twice the chef from when he left a year ago. All this was music to my ears…”
George is relishing his new role at South Lodge and looks set to progress further up the ranks and make his mark on Sussex’s culinary scene. “I’m genuinely delighted and proud to achieve a Chef de Partie role at such a prestigious hotel as South Lodge,” says George. “Personally, I think I’ve matured a lot since I left home to join the Academy and professionally, my skills and knowledge have come on in leaps and bounds. It was thanks to Allan Paul, who tutored me throughout my time at City College, that I became aware of the Chefs’ Academy so I’ll always be indebted to Allan and the College’s Catering team for helping to steer my career in such a positive way.”
If you are interested in learning more about the Chefs’ Academy programme please email Andrew.Mackenzie@exclusive.co.uk or apply online at www.exclusive.co.uk/people/develop-your-skills/chefs-academy/
For more information on catering courses at City College, call 01273 667759, email firstname.lastname@example.org or see www.ccb.ac.uk