Lexington’s Development Chef, Murray Tapiki, talks to one of our new apprentices, James Robertson. James joined us on the Lex School of Talent as an apprentice chef in September 2015 and is currently working at one of our sites in Moorgate.
MT: Why did you want to become a chef?
JR: I’ve always had a passion for food and since Year 10 I’ve dreamt of becoming a successful chef.
I attended George Green’s secondary school, in East London. The school gave me the opportunity to study Food Technology as a GCSE, which was fantastic. The course was challenging and so much fun – the experiences of learning food technology just fuelled the fire in my belly to chase my dream of becoming a chef.
MT: How did you hear about Lexington Catering?
JR: I first met the Lexy team in 2014 when they visited my secondary school to help the Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution team deliver a Give and Gain Day (part of Business in the Community). Not long after this I did a week’s work placement, over the summer, with Lexington Catering at one of their clients.
I gained so much during the week and really enjoyed myself. I received an email early June this year asking me if I would like to have an interview for their apprenticeship scheme, Lex School of Talent – I was told that I had been suggested for the apprentice programme by the team I did my work experience with last year!
MT: Tell us about a typical day as a Lex School of Talent apprentice?
JR: I arrive at work around 7am, cook breakfast and send it down to the restaurant. At 8am I start preparing for the day: sandwich fillings and grab and go snacks! I also help the other chefs with anything that needs doing, making sure everything is ready to be sent down before 11am. It’s then my role to keep on top of things, making sure nothing runs out. I finish at about 3:30pm every day.
MT: Why did you pick an apprenticeship scheme?
JR: Training as an apprentice means that I get a fully immersed into working life, whilst gaining a qualification! I get a full insight into what working life is like for a chef and I get to take part in all tasks of the kitchen, rather than just being stuck in a classroom.
Lexington offers some amazing opportunities and the team provide all the support I need to become a top chef – I am also guaranteed a job with Lexington once I finish the course. I opted to do an apprenticeship because I knew it would open up wider opportunities and create a future for me. Working as an apprentice means I am able to start doing what I love now and I have a better chance of getting a job because I will have such amazing work experience when I finish my course.
We’ve all had those dreams that you don’t want to wake up from. Just as you start getting into it your alarm clock goes off. You just wish you stayed asleep because that dream won’t come again! Well I feel like I am living that dream – all I am saying is that when someone offers to give you a go at something say yes because you might never get that opportunity again!
MT You are just three months into your apprentice training now. How is it going?
JR It is a very challenging course, but no course is easy! It’s incredibly time consuming and there are lots of early starts working in catering so you have to be 100% committed and love food.
I am working with a fabulous team – they already feel like my second family and I’m learning so much. As an apprentice from Lex School of Talent I was able to showcase some of my dishes at the Lexington Leadership Conference, last month. I also had the opportunity to enter LexChef 2015 and I’m proud to be able to say I reached the semi-finals.
There’s been so much variety and we’ve had the opportunity to work on so many different projects already. I’m excited about next year when Lex School of Talent apprentices partner with Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen for a three-day Apprentice Challenge at London’s Borough Market.
MT What are you looking forward to next?
JR I’m looking forward to carrying on this path to become a successful chef. With help from the Lexy team I want to be able to support other apprentices on their journey to becoming great chefs. This is only the beginning!