Eight proud chefs have graduated with flying colours from Elior’s Chef School, an exciting new initiative from the leading contract caterer.

Launched last year, the Chef School has been created to inspire and teach aspiring chefs looking to break into the profession. Elior has been working on the initiative with its longstanding client, the Ministry of Defence (MOD). Keen to get involved in the project, the MOD offered up space at one of its army bases in Grantham at no cost, in return for making spaces available for its own chefs.

The school was carefully designed and branded to help the students connect with both the food and Elior’s unique service-led culture. Before entering Chef School, the eight students were already working as general assistants and kitchen porters for Elior, but all had shown an interest in becoming chefs.

During the 10-month training course, the aspiring chefs enjoyed a trip to Smithfield market in London to learn how to butcher meat and fillet fish correctly, attended masterclasses in how to make and bake their own cakes and pies, plus had the opportunity to cook with four Michelin-starred chefs.

Stuart Nisbet, development chef at Elior, said: “The company was keen to develop our own talent pool of chefs owing to the limited number of skilled chefs we had to recruit from externally. As well as teaching the chefs to prepare great food, we also wanted to instil in our new chefs the importance of great service. Running Chef School has been an amazing experience – seeing students perfect their skills and grow in confidence over 10 short months has been hugely rewarding. I am extremely proud of them all.”

Staff Sergeant Major Karl Silverwood, of the Royal Logistic Corps, said: “I personally think the whole experience of Chef School has been outstanding. The food that was delivered was exceptional and it goes to show what can be achieved when you put the effort into developing people. It’s great that the Army and Elior can work in partnership to bring together the development of chefs – it’s a win-win situation for both.”

Stuart said: “There’s little point cooking great food and serving it badly, or for that matter serving average food brilliantly. We were keen to show our chefs that with Elior the whole experience matters.”

One of the new chefs, Nathan Brown, said: “I work at an extra care site cooking for around 30 people each day – so catering for 100 people was a real highlight of the course for me. I learned new techniques and recipes, as well as valuable time management and life skills which I’ll take with me and use every day in my kitchen.”

Out of the eight chefs Elior has put through Chef School, seven have already started their careers as chefs and Stuart is confident the eighth will soon join them. Stuart said: “Our new chefs have embraced everything that we have thrown at them. I am so proud of what they have achieved.”