A College of Food should be established in London to transform culinary education and support the hospitality industry's recovery from coronavirus and Brexit, according to a new report by the Centre for London think tank.
The proposed institution would bring together existing courses at further education colleges across the city under a recognised brand, which the report said would boost the standing and appeal of London's culinary education offer to Londoners as well as to national and international students.
It argued this would nurture local talent; promote inclusivity in a sector where women and Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic Londoners struggle to progress; attract investment; and train a new generation of chefs to tackle workplace discrimination and poor wellbeing.
The think tank put forward that the new facility would help boost the sector's Covid-19 recovery by ensuring a skilled, local workforce, as well as help to mitigate the impact of Brexit after historically struggling to find homegrown talent.
The college would be established as a further education institution, providing a range of entry level and advanced courses, and operate on a ‘hub and spoke', or centre and satellite model.
The Centre for London recommended that organisations with an interest in delivering the project should form a group to complete preparatory work on branding and identity, fundraising, course structure and qualification award.
Ben Rogers, founding director at Centre for London said: "London has long struggled to grow its homegrown chef talent – and restaurants, caterers, artisan and street food businesses will need skilled staff to build back better. We need to invest in our city's recovery by establishing a college of food – creating local learning and job opportunities and putting London on the map as a global centre for food education."
Kate Nicholls, chief executive of UKHospitality, said: "As we emerge from the Covid-19 crisis, the need for a strong and motivated hospitality sector is going to be more important than ever.
"Establishing a college of food in London would help cement the city's reputation as a world leader in both hospitality and education, and could be a great way of kickstarting the recovery of hospitality and the entire economy."
Iqbal Wahhab, founder of the Cinnamon Club and Roast, added: "The hospitality sector needs to become a much more attractive career choice and not an ‘if all else fails' option or a stepping stone to something else. We need to build a new generation of people who aspire to be part of the magic of what we aim to do, and we need to have teams that reflect the city we serve.
"This is a much-needed shot in the arm for us to be able to build back better. There is plenty of talent on our doorsteps which we need to bring inside and equip with the skills to make our sector great again."