A top chef and former competitor on Great British Menu is encouraging chefs across the country to open pop-up restaurants in their local schools to encourage more young people to enter the catering industry.
Danny Gill, who works at Brown’s Pie Shop, and his sous chef, Will Hodson, had a great result after opening a pop-up in the kitchens of North Kesteven, where they invited 12 15-year-old pupils to help with prep, cooking and serving to paying customers. Six of those 12 said they want to work in restaurants.
“We wanted to get kids out of their comfort zone, to show them what real work is and how exciting it can be working in a restaurant,” said Gill. “It’s about getting the word out that this industry is not just something to do in the holidays, it’s a legitimate career.”
Gill got his idea off the ground with funding from companies including Winterhalter. “This is a cracking way to encourage people into the industry,” said Stephen Kinkead, managing director of Winterhalter, who added that the company are keen to help further if Gill can get Pop-ups for Schools up and running. Gill has been invited back by the school and has also been asked to run a similar scheme in other schools.
“The point is, we have to encourage people to join the industry,” he said. “Lincolnshire is the second biggest county in England and it’s at an all-time low in terms of students going to catering college. Where’s the next generation of chefs, waiters, food and beverage managers, sommeliers and all the others we need coming from?“If you can show younger kids what it’s really like to work in a kitchen or front of house, you can attract them into the industry.”
Gill is now calling on other like-minded chefs to run Pop-ups for Schools schemes and help to stem the skills gap in catering.