ESS Senior Chefs Achieve Apprenticeship Success

05 February 2024

ESS chefs Lee Brooking, Matt Lord, Nicola Harper and Simon Coulter have each achieved a Distinction in their Level 4 Senior Culinary Chef apprenticeship.

The course covers a variety of fundamental elements for culinary leaders, including principles of recipe design, ingredient selection, food preparation, business and branding, health and safety, understanding current trends and team development.

It takes a high level of commitment to complete, requiring the collation of a detailed portfolio of evidence and the development and presentation of a new menu concept, all undertaken alongside busy day jobs.  

The four chefs, who work in the ESS Defence business, were also selected as part of the first cohort of Compass Group UK & Ireland’s ‘Forward with Marcus Wareing’ programme which ran alongside their apprenticeship course.

Dozens of chefs from across Compass Group UK & Ireland underwent a rigorous selection process, including being interviewed by a panel of judges, headed up by Marcus. 

The successful chefs completed modules on leadership and commerciality, as well as sustainability and wellbeing focused sessions such as foraging, fermentation, plant-forward dining and nutrition and mood food. The third cohort are currently completing the programme.

Lee Brooking, Group Executive Chef, said:

“Completing my L4 apprenticeship and taking part in Forward have been great experiences for me. I’ve grown my own skills, developed my capability as a manager and had the chance to mix with chefs from across the whole Compass business. There have been exciting and memorable moments and I’m enjoying passing on my experience to my team.”

Matt Lord, Regional Executive Chef, said:

“The apprenticeship and Forward programme have been amazing learning experiences. Recently in my career I have been focused on the development of others. It has been great to focus on my own learning and development. Since the course I have continued my research into the themes we covered and am enjoying using them in my role and sharing them with my team.”

Nicola Harper, Group Executive Chef, said:

“I really enjoyed the apprenticeship and Forward programme. The programme gave me the platform to build on relationships with peers and has given me the confidence I needed to progress my career, which I have done since completing it. I went on a culinary journey for 18 months and I believe it has injected more innovation and creativeness into my cooking in work and out of work.”

Simon Coulter, Group Executive Chef, said:

‘It was a huge privilege to be mentored by Marcus Wareing as part of Cohort 1 on the Forward programme. I felt like we were part of a living, breathing programme designed to challenge and inspire all of us, lifting us out of our comfort zones and teaching us to embrace change and recognise the importance of sustainability. It was a wonderful experience that I can’t endorse enough. I fully recommend this programme to all passionate senior caterers that are looking to develop and wish to push themselves to be better.”

Luke Ford, Apprenticeship & Early Careers Delivery Manager, added:

“It’s been great to work with Cohorts 1 and 2 and see the early journey of Cohort 3 for the Forward with Marcus Wareing programme. The work ethic, dedication and passion of the chefs whilst completing the programme has been second to none – they have all developed both personally and in work and it’s been great to see the first chefs from ESS now support and drive apprenticeships in their own business areas, alongside mentoring and coaching chefs from Cohorts 2 and 3.”