10 Minutes With: Adam Leyland Simpson, Chef Apprentice with HIT Training

The Staff Canteen

Adam Leyland Simpson is chef apprentice at St Bedes College led by Holroyd Howe.

Beating nine other talented chefs, Adam won the HIT Training Apprentice MasterChef competition. He is currently undertaking a commis chef apprenticeship at St Bedes College.

The program is led by Holroyd Howe, who are working with HIT Training to provide the apprenticeship across the country. He spoke to The Staff Canteen about the win and how his apprenticeship has helped his culinary career.  

HIT MasterChef 2018 winner   Adam Leyland Simpson (media)
Adam Leyland Simpson

His initial career aspirations began with acting, but Adam eventually decided that his calling was to be a chef.  

He said: “I studied performing arts at school and college, but after travelling up and down the UK performing in shows, I started to lose my passion and it became clear it wasn’t something I wanted to pursue further. At the same time, I was also working in McDonald’s; this was my first job and I really enjoyed the fast pace of the kitchen and the high spirits of the team. This was the point where I asked myself, should I get into the hospitality and catering industry?” 

Having been given the practical training needed in the kitchen, Adam felt prepared for the competition. 

He said: “Practical kitchen training is crucial to your learning as you are able to create recipes from scratch, learn from your mistakes and understand the science behind the cooking. It has hugely benefited me in my recent participation in the HIT Training MasterChef Competition, as it has given me the confidence to work well under pressure, utilise and understand ingredients and appreciate the time and passion needed in cooking.” 

Adam was up against nine other apprentice chefs. Each were tasked with creating a ‘stand out’ dish from a mystery box of ingredients in just one hour, as well as four plates of their own signature dish in three hours. He successfully impressed the judges and won the title of 2018 Apprentice MasterChef. 

Adam explained: “At the beginning of the day I felt nervous walking into a room with other apprentices I had never met, all focused on one goal. But, as soon as I got into my chef whites and into the kitchen my nerves disappeared and my confidence came through."

HIT MasterChef 2018 Finalists (media)
Apprentice Masterchef finalists

He added: "My signature dish was tweaked to a standard I was happy with, but when it came to plating up, time quickly vanished and I only just managed to get it out on time. However, nothing could prepare me for the ‘Mystery Box’ challenge – I had one hour to make soda bread and create a dish using mainly fruit and a Gilt-head seabream. It was the most testing part of the competition by far.”  

When asked how he felt about winning the competition, Adam said: “Taking part and winning, feels amazing... it just goes to show that hard work and determination pays off. It has boosted my confidence and I now feel even more valuable and helpful when working alongside my colleagues at work. 

He has learnt a lot from his apprenticeship and appreciates the support from HIT Training.

Working with HIT Training, you get a massive amount of support as an apprentice. If you are ever struggling with a module, recipe or something completely different, help is never too far away. You don’t just get told and taught about your craft, you are helped to understand it and the reason behind it.” 

He added: Don’t run before you can walk. Don’t take things for granted and assume it will come to you straight away. Things take time and practice, and once you understand that, everything will become a lot easier.” 

Adam Leyland Simpson dish   Master Chef 2018
Buttered hake fillet

Adam is looking to progress his career further. He explains: “The next steps for me are to continue to grow and develop my cooking and people skills.

"I would love to enter more competitions and climb the ladder to reach a head chef or a manager role. The ultimate dream, one day, is to take on my own restaurant to put my creativity and innovation into place.” 

Adam weighs in on what surprised him overall about his apprenticeship and advice for anyone who is considering a chef apprenticeship. 

He said: “I guess every part of the apprenticeship has surprised me as it been a constant learning curve. It’s a huge commitment to take on and you need to be prepared to work hard and put in the hours to get the most out of it.” 

He added: “I would absolutely recommend it. However, it’s not easy and you have to be passionate, driven and committed. If you tick all those boxes, then this is a route for you to take and reap the rewards with both hands.” 

By Nada Olson 

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Editor 7th December 2018

10 Minutes With: Adam Leyland Simpson, Chef Apprentice with HIT Training