Apprentice: Martin Cole
Employer: Blacksmiths Restaurant, Bigrigg, Egremont
Course Undertaking: Professional Cookery (Level 2)
Apprentice’s background and circumstances
Apprentice – Soon after leaving St Benedict’s school I gained some work at the Shepherds Arms Hotel, Ennerdale working behind the bar (part time). When they were short staffed I was asked to help out in the kitchen which I didn’t mind as I have always had an interest in cooking, baking, etc. I started to work in the kitchens more and more – the role mainly involved preparing simple bar meals and it provided me with some experience of running a kitchen, prepping food and working during busy service times. I also became used to adhering to strict kitchen cleanliness including food hygiene. I moved to Blacksmiths working as a part time kitchen assistant initially and then the apprenticeship opportunity came along and this has been brilliant for me as it is something I really want to do and I am so pleased that I have been given the opportunity.
What progress have you made and what are you hoping to achieve?
Apprentice –I feel I have made some positive progress in my apprenticeship. In fact, I have probably learnt more in the last 6 months (at Blacksmiths) than I did with my last employer where I spent 18 months. My range of cooking is expanding all the time - I have started making cakes and sponges and am now making bread, stock and sauces from scratch. This opportunity has really improved my confidence. Other members of staff are really great and they seem to enjoy the 'tattie sandwiches' I sometimes make at the end of the night! I am keen to undertake a level 3 apprenticeship once I complete the Level 2 if this is possible.
Employer – Martin is a valued member of our team here at Blacksmiths. He started off as part time kitchen assistant and progressed to apprentice chef (full time). His learning curve has been massive and he has certainly stepped up to the plate! He works alongside Steve, the Head Chef, and they have developed an effective working relationship ensuring the smooth running of the kitchen leading to an efficient restaurant and good quality food. Martin is cooking food that more experienced chefs would struggle to prepare. If he continues to make similar progress he will have a bright future and career. We hope Martin will continue to work for us once he has achieved his qualifications.
Has there been any barriers / obstacles in place which you had to overcome?
Apprentice – Initially, I may not have been as confident as I could have been. I was always asking Steve (our Head Chef) to check what I was cooking and whether it was ok. Steve just lets me get on with it now as he has confidence in my ability.
How has the apprenticeship affected your life? What has been the best thing about the apprenticeship to date?
Apprentice – I have learnt so much through doing an apprenticeship. The skills and knowledge will be with me for the rest of my life. One of the best things is that there are always different challenges each day. In the future I would like to have an input into designing the menus. My long-term ambition is to own and run my own pub or restaurant one day.