Caterer to launch group chef academy

Apprentice chefs prepare a dessert at the Apprentice Training Center (CFA) of the Campus des Metiers (Job Campus) in Quimper, western France, on February 24, 2016.  / AFP / FRED TANNEAU        (Photo credit should read FRED TANNEAU/AFP/Getty Images)

Commercial catering outfit, CH&Co Group, is joining forces with national education and training provider, Learning Curve Group (LCG), to launch a dedicated training and development programme for its 4,500 employees and the first CH&Co Group Chef Academy.

LCG will provide apprenticeships and accredited flexible training to enhance the skills and confidence of employees working back- and front-of-house across CH&Co Group’s specialist businesses, including chefs, waiting staff, bar staff, baristas and those engaged in other hospitality and catering roles.

The collaboration will also see the creation of the CH&Co Group Chef Academy. The academy will provide places for 50 trainee chefs to undertake a one-year level 2 professional cookery apprenticeship, including a week’s residential training. It will also support the ongoing professional development of chefs already working within the business.

The targeted training provision will refine and enrich the high-end, quality catering and services delivered to CH&Co Group’s diverse portfolio of clients, which ranges from City law firms and energy companies through to call centres and schools, as well as some of the UK’s most popular tourist destinations and conference and event spaces.

Brenda McLeish, chief executive of LCG, said: “CH&Co Group is a high-end contract caterer working in some very prestigious tourism sites as well as being the caterer within some of the UK’s largest companies. Vital to its success is employees having the guarantee of the very latest skills and training, which Learning Curve Group is delighted to supply.

“This high quality training and support will allow CH&Co Group’s employees to develop their skills while increasing the company’s productivity, efficiency, quality of service and production. This contract will also support our plans for growth and our ambitions to help employers meet their commitments under the national apprenticeship levy.”

News of the partnership comes just weeks after CH&Co Group entered into a joint venture with Artisan fresh food and coffee brand, SOHO Coffee Co., centred around the Apostrophe café chain.

The venture involves SOHO’s dedicated management and development structure acquiring all of the current Apostrophe sites, using the support of CH&Co Group’s back-of-house systems and procurement services. It will also see CH&Co Group offering the SOHO Coffee Co. brand as part of its portfolio of catering solutions for clients.

Chris Copner, chairman of SOHO Coffee Co., said: “This deal is the perfect opportunity for both parties to help each other grow. It immediately gives SOHO a top quality London portfolio of 15 stores to build on and gives CH&Co Group exclusive access to a rapidly growing, and increasingly international, quality food and coffee brand that will create opportunities and leverage sales in the contract catering arena.

“SOHO is an emerging and growing brand and we have a history of dynamically developing our stores. Our artisan food and drink offer has struck a chord with consumers and we now have an increasing number of flagship stores elsewhere in the world too. The emphasis is very much on future growth and we have plans to further adapt and grow the food offer in the Apostrophe branches in the coming months to meet the ever-changing needs of the chain’s customers.”

Bill Toner, CEO of CH&Co Group, said the ability to offer the SOHO Coffee Co. brand as an additional service offer to appropriate clients is a great opportunity and early indications are that it will open about 10 SOHO outlets a year within contract catering environments.

“Our partnership means that both companies will have a stronger portfolio, a wider footprint, and for Apostrophe, a new dedicated management team with in depth international experience of that sector – increasingly important in London, which is arguably one of the world’s most dynamic capital cities for food,” he said.

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