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My Journey as an Apprentice Chef At Lexington

We are running a series of blogs to mark National Apprenticeship Week 2017. In our second Lex School of Talent blogs Murray Tapiki, Chef Development Manager, talks to Emily Orton about her journey so far and what it takes to be an apprentice with Lexington Catering.

MT – Why did you decide you wanted to be a chef?

EO – I am 22. I spent a year and a half working in the hospitality team at Chessington World of Adventures, four months in a call centre, six months in a pub and six months working as a waitress.

I didn’t really know anything about apprentice chefs, I just loved baking and making cakes – I wanted to turn something I’m passionate about doing into my career so I looked at colleges and courses and then I heard about the Lex School of Talent.

MT – How are you finding the apprenticeship programme?

EO – It’s been a fantastic experience. I’ve explored so many different cooking styles and techniques.

I’ve been here for almost two years as an apprentice and in that time I have prepared and served two Christmas A La Carte dinners for more than 400 people, prepared a mini festival style banquet with gazebos and bespoke menu’s for over 3,000 people. I’ve also made bento boxes, picnic boxes, with salads, sandwiches and cake and spent two days working in the Lancaster Terrace Hotel and a day in Galvins (Michelin star).

I’ve learned how to cook and work as part of a team, taken part in so many competitions and master-classes including a fish master-class, a meat master-class and a chocolate master-class.

But the best thing is that you get to learn and work at the same time instead of simply going to college, finishing college and then having the panic of finding a job. It’s all integrated together.

MT – What’s your typical day as an apprentice?

EO – A typical day as a chef, is challenging and stressful at times but also educational and enjoyable.

7am: Start

7.10am: Make box salad

7.45am: Prepare salads and proteins for the retail outlets

8.30am: Prepare salads and platter for lunch

10:00am: Take food to service kitchen

11.15am: Prepare for dinner, next morning, top up on salads for retail and box salads, maybe the odd finger food / canapé, sometimes there will be an a la carte

2.30pm: Finish preparation, clean up and go home

MT – Were there any challenges you needed to overcome to get to where you are?

EO – I’ve overcome a lot of challenges throughout the programme, particularly focusing on controlling my emotions.

MT – What’s the funniest things that has happened to you during your apprenticeship programme?

ET – The funniest moment in my apprenticeship was my trial shift. I ended up going to the wrong site but the head chef thought I was from the support team and I ended up doing a full on shift! But I ended up getting an Apprenticeship – thank goodness they were both Lexington sites!

MT – Any top tips to share with people considering an apprenticeship?

OT – I’d say to them make sure being a chef is something you really want to do because you will often spend more time there than you will at home!

Make sure you can keep your emotions in check. It’s an emotional and busy role. If you have any problems, or worries, people are always willing to help

I would recommend Lexington to anyone. The experience is incredible, life changing and an eye opener. I’ve developed personally and professionally.

MT – What is next?

EO – Next, for me, Chef De Partie then, if I work hard enough, Junior Sous chef!