The opportunities a kitchen career with Mitchells & Butlers can unlock for you...
Looking for a kitchen career? Putting on the chef whites with Mitchells & Butlers offers plenty of opportunities to climb the career ladder and work with a great bunch of likeminded people. Simon Whitfield, Accredited Kitchen Manager, is celebrating 30 years of service with Mitchells & Butlers, so we decided to catch up with him to find out more about his career journey and hear his top tips for a career in hospitality.
When did you join Mitchells & Butlers and why did you join?
I think it was 13th August 1989 when I started at Mitchells & Butlers. I joined straight out of school. I was not very academic and wasn’t much for the classroom, so the on the job training really appealed to me.
How does it feel to reach 30 years of service?
Old! But seriously, I feel very proud of the fact I have achieved this. Originally It was my intention to only stay for a couple of years while I trained. But honestly, I really don’t know where the time has gone. It feels like yesterday was my first day.
Tell us a little bit about your career journey.
I started out training to be a Grill Chef and learned the basics of running the kitchen. After I learned the ropes, I was promoted to be a Second Chef and a few years later I moved into the Head Chef role. During this time, I branched out and learned how to run the bar and restaurant so that I could work in every department. I then progressed into the Assistant Manager role, and it was during this time I started working in different businesses, gaining valuable experience.
After a few years of working in different businesses, I decided I wanted to settle in one business. So, when the Kitchen Manager job was available at Toby Carvery Festival Park I came back and have been working with the team since 2005. Since then, I made the jump to become an Accredited Kitchen Manager.
What has been your favourite moment over the last 30 years?
There have been so many but meeting my partner and the mother to our 2-year-old son was the best. Also, I’ve made so many lifetime friends over the years.
What is it about Mitchells & Butlers that has made you want to stay for 30 years?
For me, the people have been the most important thing. The guys I have worked with over the years have become family really. Lifetime friends that support you through thick and thin, the good times and the bad. Because of them sometimes it didn’t even feel like work, it’s more of a hobby you get paid for.
Also, company stability. I have never been out of work, worried about money and the job has paid for me to travel the world with my mates. It’s paid for my home and the life me and my family have today.
What’s your favourite part of your role now?
The variety of being an Accredited Kitchen Manager is great. I’ve been able to get involved in so many different parts of the company, whether that’s helping other restaurants, training the next generation of Kitchen Managers, or working with Alison Bradbury, Head of People, on Kitchen retention in Toby Carvery. I’ve even been able to help pilot for new menus.
What would be your advice for someone looking to pursue a kitchen career?
Be prepared to work hard. If you pick a kitchen role then don’t accept second best. Be a team player and most importantly look after your team and they will look after you. Some of my best team members have been with me for 15 years.
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Have you got an appetite for learning? Then a chef apprenticeship could be the perfect way to take your passion for food to the next level.When you think of a chef career it’s hard not to picture Gordon Ramsey’s high-pressure kitchen or Jamie Oliver campaigning for healthier school dinners. But did you know that both these celebrity chefs started as a chef apprentice? And they’re not the only ones; Clare Smyth, the only female chef to run a three Michelin star restaurant; Heston Blumenthal, who gifted the world with triple-cooked chips among other wonderful inventions; and Masterchef judge, Monica Galetti, also started their careers with a chef apprenticeship. Read on to hear how a chef apprenticeship can kickstart your culinary career.Learn by doingIf classroom learning doesn’t tickle your taste buds then an apprenticeship could be just for you. The programmes are great for anyone that learns best by doing and likes to get stuck into a task. Of course, you will have coursework to do but you’ll get to use that learning when you’re back in the kitchen. Not only that, but you’ll earn while you get on-the-job training and learn the ropes under the watchful eyes of talented chefs. And remember, you’re never too old to learn and so you’re never too old to do an apprenticeship.Become a culinary whizA chef apprenticeship will teach you how to plate up food to perfection and learn how to make those melt-in-the-mouth dishes and sides that are our guests’ favourites - like our triple cooked chips (thanks Heston). But more than that, you’ll learn all the basics which just so happen to be the most important parts. After all, learning how to prep food, garnish and knowing how to keep a kitchen clean is what makes a great chef. Taking it back to the basics will also help you see what you’ve got a natural flair for, and you’ll be whipping up recipes at home and impressing your friends and family in no time.Boost your confidenceIf there was a checklist for what you need to do chef apprenticeship, it would look something like this: a passion for cooking, a team player, ambition and did we mention a passion for food?The rest of the skills you need to be a successful chef will all be taught to you. Because learning your way around the kitchen is no piece of cake there is a lot to learn when you enrol on a chef apprenticeship. After completing the programme you’ll come out with loads of experience, knowledge and as a result, you’ll get a huge boost to your confidence.Have funA job is all about finding that balance between work hard and play hard. Our chef apprentices will vouch for us when we say there’s plenty of time for fun on a chef apprenticeship and it’s just one of the five reasons why you’ll love an apprenticeship with M&B. If you’re willing to put in the hard work you could be a head chef one day, or if it’s your dream to specialise you can prove yourself as a talented roast chef – or a rotisseur if we’re using the fancy brigade de cuisine terms.Get a taste for a chef apprenticeship at M&BSo, reckon you could be a chef? With the help our of dedicated kitchen teams you can turn your passion into a chef career. Now we’ve given you a taste for what to expect from a chef apprenticeship you can get more of the details on our chef apprenticeships. Or to hear first-hand from one of our chef apprentices, read Joao Paulo’s experience of gaining his Commis Chef Level 2 certificate.
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Bartosz completed a chef apprenticeship with Premium Country Pubs. Achieving a Commis Chef level 2 certificate. Here's what he had to say about his experience: WHAT DO YOU LIKE BEST ABOUT WORKING FOR M&B?The opportunity to learn new and more things. I have also been able to improve my English too. WHAT ATTRACTED YOU TO A M&B APPRENTICESHIP?I wanted to improve and develop myself so thought why not. WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR HIGHLIGHT OF THE APPRENTICESHIP EXPERIENCE?To see some real professional cookery from scratch. Gaining this universal knowledge WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE PART OF YOUR JOB ROLE?Every shift is different – no day is ever the same so the variation is great. UNEXPECTED BENEFITWill power and commitment needed and gained HAS THE APPRENTICESHIP MADE YOU VIEW YOUR JOB ROLE DIFFERENTLY?Yes it makes me look at the detail and quality more. WERE THERE ANY CHALLENGES IN YOUR ROLE, IF YOU HOW DID YOU OVERCOME THEM?Stress of a busy service but my team and I work well together to overcome this. WOULD YOU RECOMMEND AN APPRENTICESHIP TO YOUR TEAM OR FRIENDS?Yes, If someone wants to improve then why not. WHAT WOULD YOU TELL SOMEONE WHO IS CONSIDERING STARTING A M&B APPRENTICESHIP?Get involved and take it all in and onboard as it is a big commitment. WHAT IS YOUR NEXT CAREER GOAL?I will be travelling for 6 months but working while I do so. INTERESTED IN AN APPRENTICESHIP?At Mitchells and Butlers, we have a range of apprenticeships to suit people at every level, whether that's chefs, management or bar and waiting staff. View our apprenticeships
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