Three Cumbrian teenagers are on the road to making careers as chefs, following the completion of a bespoke apprenticeship scheme run by a Lake District hotel group.

17-year-olds Maria Cheetham from Haverigg, Jonny Marriott from Staveley and Rebecca Atkinson from Heysham have all graduated with flying colours from the English Lakes Hotels Resorts & Venues ‘Culinary Academy’.  It gives them all a Production Chef NVQ Level 2 qualification, with the course delivered in partnership with Kendal College.

Having left school in 2020, all three trainees wanted to forge careers in the hospitality industry.  The course has allowed them to hone chef skills whilst earning a wage with the hotel group.  Maria has been based at Low Wood Bay Resort & Spa in Windermere, Jonny at the nearby Wild Boar Inn, and Rebecca at the art-deco Midland Hotel in Morecambe.

Under the tutelage of English Lakes Hotels’ highly experienced head chef Daniel Winstanley, the Culinary Academy offers a fully accredited apprenticeship programme for school leavers over 16 to train as commis chefs.

Daniel Winstanley explains: “All three students have done brilliantly, especially in the context of the pandemic and the various restrictions along the way.  It’s a testament to them that their respective venue head chefs have made it very clear that they want them to continue working for them.

Maria achieved a much deserved Distinction in one of her final exam elements. She started in pastry making and cold starters in Low Wood Bay’s extremely busy kitchen, often exceeding 500 covers a day, but she’s never been fazed.

Rebecca’s commitment to the course has been outstanding and she has been rewarded by the team at The Midland for her hard work and commitment.  When an opportunity arose to cater an external function, Rebecca jumped at the opportunity and really shone.

“Jonny’s confidence has grown, aptly demonstrated in a culinary challenge where the students work independently under exam type conditions. He’s now responsible for the Wild Boar Inn’s highly popular afternoon tea and is taking on more evening service and supervisory responsibilities.”

For further information about English Lakes Hotels Resorts & Venues and applying for its ‘Culinary Academy’, email group.chef@englishlakes.co.uk or visit https://englishlakes.co.uk/jobs/culinary-academy/ to complete an application form.