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River Cottage Celebrates Chef Graduation

The graduation extravaganza, held here at River Cottage HQ, was marked with a banquet cooked by Chef Tutors, speeches given by Steve Lamb followed by a certification ceremony presented by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall. The graduates then danced the night away as they celebrated their achievements.

Proud families, supportive business partners and excited friends gathered to celebrate in style as our apprentices graduated from a 12-month Young Chef Programme.

The event attracted visitors from across the world, as families flew in from Malta and Australia to see their sons and daughters graduating.

The 48 ecstatic graduates were the first to complete our Young Chef Apprentice Scheme – a professional and personal journey that aims to equip young learners with the skills they need to enter the catering industry.

This comes after a year of hands-on experience studying in our state of the art Chefs’ School, while working in some of the best restaurants, pubs and hotels across the South West.

As a testament to the quality of the programme, we've scooped numerous awards, including being listed as a Top 100 Apprenticeship Employer in the UK by the National Apprenticeship Scheme.

The graduates were unanimous in their view that this had been one of the greatest experience of their lives.

Sam Lomas, graduate and Rising Star champion said, “I could never have imagined all the things I’ve done and learned. I can now pretty much pursue any career related to River Cottage’s work I should choose, completely down to my time with River Cottage and the apprenticeship scheme. It’s obvious the scheme has gone from strength to strength despite how relatively young it is and I have no doubt it will continue to do so.”

Chris Griffin, Head of Education, reflects on the ambitions of the project, “Our goal was to do much more than simply teach cookery skills. We wanted to inspire a new generation of chefs to be conscious about the provenance of their ingredients, who understand the importance of animal welfare and sustainability. The whole team and I are so proud of each and every student who graduated; over the past year they have not only developed as chefs, but as well-rounded people.”

We're pleased to announce that we're now accepting applications for our various schemes; Food and Beverage Service, Young Chef Apprenticeship, and in January 2015 we will be relaunching our Traineeship Programme.

Head Chef Tutor, Gary Richmond, said, "There are two ways that you can join River Cottage Chefs' School to get the basic skills you need for a successful career in hospitality. Join us in January 2015 as a trainee and prepare yourself for paid-for work as an apprentice. If you already have a basic knowledge of cooking and feel confident to go into the work-place, then join us as a fully-fledged apprentice in Spring 2015."

Highlights of the programme include insight into our famous farm, state of the art kitchens to train in, mentoring and support from established industry professionals, Best of all, there are no tuition fees to pay and learners will receive a salary from their employer throughout the programme.

Applications for the Young Chef Apprenticeship Scheme and Traineeship Programme are open to 16-24 year olds. Apply today at www.rivercottage/apply.