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Celebrity pub chef: 'I'd love to see more young people choosing hospitality as a career'

By Josh Eggleton, chef patron of the Pony & Trap, Chew Magna, Somerset

- Last updated on GMT

Josh Eggleton: "I'd love to see more young people choosing hospitality as a future career"
Josh Eggleton: "I'd love to see more young people choosing hospitality as a future career"

Related tags: Young people, Restaurant, Food

When I joined the trade, life as a chef was tough - with long hours, hard work and not a lot of time off. But that didn’t deter me at all and I’ve loved it since day one. 

Conditions have improved massively over the years, with many restaurants giving chefs 3 days off per week - which we have done at the Pony & Trap for over five years. 

We recognise that you get the best out of people if they are well rested and ready for service every time they come into work. A work life balance is fundamental, as is the chance to visit other places and experience the food.

We take trips to local food producers, farms and artisan businesses to see where our ingredients come from, how they’re made and the way in which the food is best treated.

All these opportunities are not singular to us and I’d love to see more young people choosing hospitality as a future career.

As the team has grown over the years, we now sit down together and have a staff meal every day – as I write this, they’re sitting downstairs and eating a Sunday lunch, catching up and staring continuously at their phones.

However, as I’m reading all the time from many of my peers in the magazine, there is a huge skills shortage in the UK​ of keen young people joining the trade and wanting to take on an apprenticeship to work their way through to the top.

Plenty of members of my kitchen team at the Pony started out as apprentices and have gone on to become talented and invaluable chefs.

Others have moved to work in the kitchens at our fish restaurant and tearoom the Salt & Malt, or our more casual/rustic-style eatery in the city centre, Yurt Lush.

The food industry is more buoyant than ever. New places are opening up all the time, with opportunities for chefs to move on up and take on larger roles or open their own businesses.

But what can be done where there still seems to be a lack of young people looking to just start out in their careers?

My stint on Great British Menu​ for this year (which airs from 10th​ August) was an amazing experience, cooking alongside my peers and working in the kitchen, which is what I really love – a fantastic opportunity.

But, it was an opportunity I wouldn’t have had if I hadn’t started as an apprentice myself all those years ago.

We recently launched a campaign, called “Josh and Holly’s 50” with our local paper, joining with chef Adrian Kirikmaa from the local City of Bristol College and some of the best restaurant owners and chefs in Bristol to try and recruit 50 new apprentices for hospitality businesses in the city and its surrounding areas.

Our campaign focuses not just on chefs, but also on front-of-house, an area of the business that is just as vital as the food.

Ultimately, we are looking for enthusiastic and interested potential apprentices who want to succeed in the hospitality industry, that we can all help mould into the industry leaders of the future. 

Related topics: Chefs

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