First, add self-raising power
Apprenticeships boost confidence and forge long-term careers, says Gordon Ramsey Group’s Paul Shearing
I started working in kitchens at the age of 14, and five years later was still slugging it out in pubs in Dorset. I was continually told that I shouldn’t waste my time in kitchens and that all this hard work wouldn’t amount to anything, but I was a determined young guy and remained really passionate about cooking.
I enrolled at Bournemouth College and within three months I found myself in the south of France completing a stage in a Michelin-starred restaurant – with broken French. From the French restaurant, I returned to London and began my professional career in restaurants. I worked my way up the ranks at Odettes, Caviar Kaspia, Bibendum and One Aldwych over a period of 18 years, before joining Gordon Ramsay Group and becoming head chef of Bread Street Kitchen near St Paul’s.
In my opinion, a modern kitchen is a place of learning through mentorship, encouragement and support. I currently mentor two apprentices at my restaurant and we have plans to build on that year-on-year. There is no glass ceiling in this industry, and the only limitations are the ones we give ourselves. I passionately believe in apprenticeships as a way of encouraging young people to believe in themselves and to forge long-term careers. Working for Gordon Ramsay Group offers me a real platform to give something back via the apprenticeship programme.
By giving apprentices the support and skills they need to succeed, we are further adding value to the industry – an industry that is notoriously short of skilled, committed individuals. It also helps the senior chefs with confidence and competency in training new chefs; an invaluable skill that supports personal development at the same time.
We pass on our craft, knowledge, life-skills and the ability to teach our future chefs. Our standards are demanding at Gordon Ramsay Group, so if we can nurture people early on at such a high level, then we’re off to a great start. That, in turn, reduces pressure on recruitment by providing a pipeline of future chef talent.