Before culinary school came along, the most common route into becoming a chef was to take up an apprenticeship. Some of the most famous names in the industry started out learning from others, and gained experience with on-the-job training.
While culinary school can teach you the theory behind making a great chocolate soufflé, as an apprentice, you could be making dozens each week, perfecting your recipes and efficiency as time goes on. You will also be paid while working as an apprentice, rather than spending lots of money on years of schooling before heading into work.
If you’re lucky enough to have a head chef take a shine to you, you could be learning first-hand what it takes to be successful, like these famous figures:
Now one of the most well-known culinary faces in history, Jamie Oliver finished school at 16 with just two GCSEs. His passion for food meant he took up an NVQ in home economics, before apprenticing at Antonio Carluccio’s Neal Street Restaurant in London. He has starred in multiple TV shows, has published countless cookbooks, and has started his own restaurant chain… there’s no doubt Jamie has his fingers in many pies.
However, he has time to give back to the system that boosted his career, as he runs his own apprenticeship programme at his first restaurant ‘Fifteen’ to discover the next master chef.
If Jamie Oliver is the happy chappy in the kitchen, then no doubt hothead Gordon Ramsay is his celebrity opposite. Ramsay has become a leading personality in the industry with shows that air in more than 200 countries including Hell’s Kitchen, and he also owns and manages over 40 restaurants worldwide.
His successful career was encouraged by a hotel management apprenticeship with North Oxfordshire Technical College in the 1980’s, in which he undoubtedly found his passion in the kitchen. Ramsay has shown himself to be multi-skilled, as he could also have been a professional footballer. But if your soul passion is food, why not follow in the footsteps of Gordon with an apprenticeship?
Clare Smyth’s achievements as a chef should never be understated. She is one of the most successful chefs in the UK, becoming the first and only woman to run a three Michelin star restaurant.
Born in Northern Ireland, Smyth moved to England after leaving school at 16 to pursue her passion for cooking, as she “became obsessed with food in the same way other kids were obsessed with pop bands”. After receiving a catering NVQ in Portsmouth, she apprenticed at many restaurants around the capital, including Heston Blumenthal’s The Fat Duck. She is now the head chef of Gordon Ramsay’s London Restaurant.
It’s not uncommon for the top culinary professionals to have been taken under somebody else’s wing. If you fancy receiving on-the-job experience, and getting paid while learning, click here to find out more about our hospitality and chef apprenticeships.