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Should I complete a chef course or an apprenticeship?

07 June 2004
Should I complete a chef course or an apprenticeship?

Question

I have been working in a kitchen for nearly two years, firstly as a kitchen porter and now helping with food preparation at a hotel in Woodstock. Recently I had the opportunity to work for two days in the kitchens of Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons, which I enjoyed immensely. They advised me to seek an apprenticeship at somewhere less prestigious - they do not usually take staff on at 16 - and to reapply in the future. I have now been offered a place at Bournemouth College on the specialised chef course this September, but I think I would prefer an apprenticeship scheme. Please can you let me have your thoughts on which route to pursue?

Answer

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Wendy Bartlett, director, Bartlett Mitchell Firstly, don't be put off from applying to prestigious establishments: enthusiasm and persistence can go a long way. You didn't mention how you came by the opportunity to work at Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons for a couple of days - perhaps you could offer your services to them on an ad hoc basis if they were short of commis chefs, maybe during the holiday season. This would stand you in good stead when you reapply. Modern Apprenticeship schemes are available to 18- to 24-year-olds, which allows you to gain your qualifications while developing valuable on-the-job skills. Alternatively, why not see if there is a day-release course at Bournemouth College? This way you have the advantage of on-job experience, giving you the chance to practise your skills in a restaurant environment, coupled with coaching from a variety of tutors, allowing you to follow different styles. Work on building up a portfolio of pictures of your work, which will demonstrate to prospective employers your talents as well as your determination. Good luck. Each week our expert panel will answer your career questions. If you'd like to submit a question, send it to .
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