Elior chefs go back to school with training programme

Elior UK has introduced a project dedicated to the training and development of chefs within the business. The Elior Chef School was sparked by learning and development manager Tammy Starling’s desire to provide hands-on training for Elior chefs.

The Chef School involves interactive workshops held under the instruction of its senior chef team and renowned industry chefs, including Anton Edelman, and combines practical experience with traditional learning. Each month students cover different topics, from butchery and bread making to sauces and seafood, while working towards a Level 2 NVQ. Most of the sessions are held at Elior’s flagship development kitchen at Waterstone’s Piccadilly.

Many Elior suppliers are involved with the programme, supplying ingredients for the classes and hosting visits. Among other locations, students have visited Billingsgate Fish Market to learn about sourcing fresh ingredients, with a fishing trip and a farm visit lined up for this year’s class.

Tammy Starling, learning and development manager at Elior says: “By taking chefs away from busy kitchens where they feel under pressure to not make mistakes, and giving them time in a learning environment to be expressive and creative, they improve quicker. They become more confident in their role, benefit from an expanded repertoire and their overall quality of cooking is better.

“Our goal at Elior is to make sure all our chefs feel happy and confident in their roles so they can continually learn and develop their skills. For employees to deliver great customer service they have to feel proud of what they do and our commitment to them is at the forefront of our operations.”

Georgina Koomsom’s talent in the kitchen was recognised when someone left and she stepped in to help: “I started out as a front of house assistant and was working in sandwich preparation when I got involved with the Chef School. I’ve learnt so much and I’m now more comfortable with being in the kitchen. My ambition is to be a great cook so I’m constantly learning, practicing at home and then bringing in dishes I’ve made to work for everyone to try. This Chef School has formalised everything I’ve learned.”

Since completing the course, Georgina has taken part in activities such as cook-offs and demonstrations whenever possible. Her talent and enthusiasm has continued to grow and many head chefs now ask for her when they need assistance.

Katy Newman, national account manager, Babcock (the apprentice-training specialist), works with Tammy to run the programme: “This programme is really different from anything else that I’ve worked on – not only is there an outstanding development kitchen facility but the programme is well structured and the team have a great understanding of the value that apprenticeships offer.”

Tammy says: “Since last year’s course was so successful, this year’s is already underway. We learnt so much from the pilot scheme that I’m confident the new programme will exceed expectations. It’s going to be bigger and better and the new students have many exciting things to look forward to.”