It seems there's no shortage of TV programmes giving an insight into the glamorous and not-so-glamorous world of hospitality at the moment. But because they promote the rough with the smooth, this free PR can also put a lot of young people - and crucially their parents - off a career in our industry.
Against this backdrop, the Springboard charity, led by 2008 Catey Special Award winner Anne Pierce, has been working tirelessly over the past 10 years to build one of its greatest initiatives, FutureChef.
Since its inception, over 40,000 young people aged 12-16 have taken part in this treasured competition. While FutureChef can't guarantee that everyone it touches ends up working in the industry, it does inspire all those who take part to, at the very least, "explore food and cooking as a life skill".
Borne out of research conducted by Springboard, which revealed that young people admire higher profile and celebrity chefs yet few consider a career as a chef, it has set to address this by introducing young people to "cooking, helping to develop their skills, developing direct work experience in the industry and providing expert advice on the career options and entry routes available".
It's a first-class programme and while it's well established it's never too late to get involved. You can find out more about FutureChef at http://futurechef.springboarduk.net
BRITAIN'S GOT TALENT
I first met a rather shy 20-year-old Simon Hulstone when he was flying the flag for Britain at the 1995 WorldSkills event in Lyon. Hulstone stood out. His shock of red hair made him easy to pinpoint, but what made him really noticeable to the 200,000 audience was his calm, focused and well-honed craft skills. He went on to win Britain a gold medal.
As Caterer went to press, the results from the European finals of the Bocuse d'Or were drifting in by text and Twitter. In typically fine form, Hulstone (supported by second chef Jordan Bailey) took a special award for his meat platter (see his work on page 17) and finished in fourth place overall. This outstanding accomplishment guarantees him a place at the Bocuse d'Or 2011 world finals in Lyon in January. We have high hopes for you, Chef!
By Amanda Afiya, Web Editor, Caterersearch.com