John Costello, Nestle Product Technology

The Staff Canteen
John Costello

John Costello discusses his role as Senior confectioner at Nestle Product Technology Centre and his own inspirations with regards to pursuing a career as a Chef.

Name: John Costello

Place of work: Nestle Product Technology Centre

Role: Senior confectioner

Bio: John started his career at 15, working for Slattery's Patisseries in Manchester whilst also doing courses in bakery, confectionery and patisserie. He then did short courses in Belgium and Switzerland before starting work at Confisure Progien in Switzerland in 1998. After this, he moved to London in 2000 to teach at the National Bakery School in London. He was then a freelance demonstrator and tutor working for companies including Callebaut and Squires Kitchen before he moved back to Manchester to join Park Cake Bakeries as a chocolate Innovation Chef in 2007. From here John then gained his position at Nestle.

Chef Skills

John Costello takes us through his personal experiences whilst being in the Culinary Industry. These key skills that young Chefs and industry professionals learn as part of their basic training.

How long have you been in this role?

About two and a half years.

What made you go into the development sector?

My job is looking at chocolate and ingredients for more mainstream products than artisan ones. It is a very interesting part of the industry because you are looking at the science side of things, so it is slightly different to other parts of the industry. The pressures are different and the working life is different. It is better for a work life balance, in other aspects of the industry the work life balance is not great, when you come into the industry and you are young it is okay but after a while, you don’t want to be doing 14/15 hour days. It doesn’t mean that the work we do is a lot different- everything that is made in big scale starts life being handmade in a kitchen, the same way as a Chef would do.

Is it a sector you would advise for those just entering the industry?

There are manufacturers that take on apprenticeship schemes, so if they come into the industry and are learning the trade that way it’s good, and they can specialise afterwards.

What experience and how many years would someone need in order to progress to the top level of the industry?

 Again, it depends on what you are doing, this sector is slightly different to other parts of the industry because there are different slots that people can go into. So you have the role that  I do, and there are different levels within that, so you have people who have never worked  in a kitchen before, and who work their way up, we have people in the kitchen who have  the factory experience, and there are two of us who have pastry Chef backgrounds. 

What are the main reasons that someone should look at the manufacturing side of the food industry?

1. Sociable hours

2. Salary can be potentially quite good in comparison to working in a normal kitchen

3. It would enhance and help them to get a better understanding of ingredients

Where would you say the key places are to train to gain experience in the food development area?

There are several manufacturers up and down the country that they can talk to, Nestle is a great company and they have apprenticeship schemes available. Our aim at the minute is to raise the profile of what we do, because pastry Chefs don’t realise what it is we actually do, they just see the mass production line, but it starts with the hand made, highly skilled, Pastry Chef part behind the scenes, which is needed to push new development through.

What are you looking out for on a CV or in an interview if someone is applying to work with you?

It has to be somebody who shows dedication. You see a lot of people coming into the industry who want to jump straight to the top, they don’t want to learn the basics first. It is important that people realise that you need to learn the foundations. So if someone is coming in from an apprentice point of view then they need to show that they are hardworking and keen to learn.

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The Staff Canteen

Editor 4th May 2017

John Costello, Nestle Product Technology