A trio of aspiring young chefs have been given the opportunity to run their own restaurant for a night.

Three apprentice commis chefs from Cumbria and Lancashire stepped in to take charge of the menu and cook for the diners at Blue Smoke on the Bay on the shores of Windermere.

The career experience initiative was set up as part of English Lakes Hotels Resorts & Venues’ ‘Culinary Academy’ to showcase the skills of trainee chefs Matthew Lemm, 19, from Lancaster, Ashley Brannigan, 25, from Morecambe and Jack Muir, 18, from Ambleside.

The special menu for the night featured wood grilled Monkfish steak with a Thai curry sauce and roasted aged sirloin with a red wine shallot sauce.  Starters included a twice baked cheese soufflé on creamy leeks with wild mushrooms and Lancashire cheese, whilst the youngsters produced an array of desserts such as Tunisian style orange and almond cake.

Matthew Lemm explains: “The opportunity to learn from leading local chef Steven Doherty as part of my role with English Lakes Hotels was a big part of why I applied to be on the Culinary Academy scheme.

“When Blue Smoke on the Bay opened, I moved there to continue my learning under head chef Tyrone Blake.  I’ve also learnt a lot from him, not least the skill of taking your time to ensure that you never compromise the quality of the food you are preparing.

“The chance to devise and deliver the menu at the restaurant for a night and take real time responsibility for it all was incredibly rewarding.”

The English Lakes Hotels Resorts & Venues’ Culinary Academy is a two year apprenticeship, delivered in partnership with multi-award winning chef Steven Doherty and Kendal College, which trains the youngsters to become commis chefs.

It is fully accredited to deliver the commis chef apprenticeship standard approved by the Government. The initiative involves working under the watchful eye of the hotel group’s own head chefs at award-winning venues, with one day per week dedicated to offsite training with Mr Doherty.

Steven Doherty adds: “Putting Matthew, Ashley and Jack in charge of the restaurant menu for the night is a watershed moment for them all and should pave the way for future recruitment and meaningful training.

“It’s been a wonderful and privileged journey for me to train the entire group.  With the new work based training and accreditation, who knows what stars of the future we may have helped to create within the hotel group’s kitchens.”

For further information about English Lakes Hotels Resorts & Venues and its ‘Culinary Academy’, email Val Still at group.personnel.support@englishlakes.co.uk or visit englishlakes.co.uk/jobs/culinary-academy and complete the form at the bottom of the page.

Blue Smoke on the Bay is one of the Lake District’s newest dining destinations and part of the £20 million redevelopment of Low Wood Bay Resort & Spa.  It offers open plan, interactive food preparation using a three metre long double wood fired grill, the centrepiece of the restaurant.

For further information about the restaurant, visit https://englishlakes.co.uk/low-wood-bay/dining-bars/blue-smoke/