Photo courtesy of John Lewis Partnership

Struggling hospitality sector gets boost from John Lewis Partnership’s Chef Academy

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With an astounding 76% of food-serving hospitality operators needing chefs, the John Lewis Partnership – which is led by Waitrose and John Lewis shops – has created a Chef Academy to help assist in the effort to find and train more cooks.

According to UKHospitality CEO Kate Nicholls, the loss of those chefs is not only costing foodservice some £21bn in revenue but also is leading to the shutdown of operations at some business for days at a time. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, hospitality had more than 3.2 million workers, but that number has dropped substantially and is yet recover.

 “Vacancies in hospitality are at a record high,” she says. “Initiatives like this one are an important part of efforts to ease the crisis.”

The dire chef shortage is a shame in a nation where it often leads the way on new food preparation and ideas.

“The UK has always delivered some of the world’s best chefs, but that has come under threat in the last two years as the industry has come under increased pressure,” said Michael Abadee, an Executive Chef for the John Lewis Partnership, who has been in the hospitality industry for 30 years. But he says. “The Academy is a huge opportunity for people with a shared love of great food to be inspired and develop the skills they need to become the country’s future chefs.” 


Through the Academy, the John Lewis Partnership is expected to help train 10 apprentices this year and more in the coming years. During the process, they will work in kitchens at John Lewis offices and hotels. They will be learning how to prepare everything from breakfasts to eight-course meals and how to deliver dining for big occasions such as weddings. Once they have met those goals, they will earn Professional Commis Chef Level 2 qualification. Chefs can also rise to Commis Chefs or Chef de Parties level at one of the partnership’s hotels. The opportunities in are in several locations – Odney in Berkshire, our farm in Leckford, Hampshire, Ambleside in the Lake District, Bala in Snowdonia National Park and Brownsea Castle in Dorset, as well as head offices in Bracknell and London. Those from the food industry who are interested or know others who might be can see apprenticeships posted at JLPjobs.com. John Lewis helps cater to 78,000 Partners across hospitality, which range from coffee shops, hotels, pubs, restaurants, and nightclubs to contract caterers, entertainment, wedding venues, holiday homes and visitor attractions.

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