Hotel group launches first kitchen academy to tackle chef crisis

A hotel group in Cumbria has launched its own ‘Hotel Academy’ for aspiring chefs over fears that fine dining could become a thing of the past.

Lake District Hotels, which runs a number of leading hotels in the north west of England, plans to put a number of young chefs through their paces in its AA Rosette kitchens, working closely with the company’s executive head chef.

The brand has teamed up with hospitality education specialist HIT Training to develop the bespoke apprenticeship programme and launch it across its properties.

Sourcing good, reliable chefs has always been a battle for the hospitality industry and research suggests it is only going to get tougher. Data from skills development agency People 1st shows 51% of catering colleges have seen enrolments drop, while the industry is predicted to need 11,000 new chefs by 2020.

To try and help its own business alleviate its own recruitment challenge, Lake District Hotels’ HR manager, Maria Boyd, has been working with HIT Training experts to put the building blocks in place for a successful Hotel Academy.

The academy will include a one-year programme with a guaranteed employment offer at the end, kitchen career progression, quarterly incentives, monthly visits to local suppliers, accredited professional qualifications and certificates, and the option to earn up to £21,000 after two years at chef de partie level.

The aim of the academy is to help attract new talented employees, earn their loyalty and bring their skills in line with modern workplace standards, as well as offering progression from commis chef, to chef de partie, to sous chef, and to become future head chefs.

The apprenticeship programme is open to any age group, offers a salary based on the individuals age, and incentives such as their first knife set and full set of chefs’ whites, £1,000 bonus on completion of training, one night’s dinner, bed and breakfast for two in one of the group’s seven hotels and two weeks’ work experience abroad in Malta or Austria.

The candidates selected to join the Hotel Academy will be based at the 2AA Rosette Lodore Falls Hotel in Borrowdale (main image), the 2AA Rosette George Hotel in Penrith, the AA Rosette Borrowdale Hotel, the AA Rosette Inn on the Square in Keswick and the 2AA Rosette Inn on the Lake in Ullswater.

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