Taking practical subjects off the curriculum is denying young people a sense of purpose, says Adam Simmonds

The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 4th July 2019

On Tuesday, Adam Simmonds, the newly-appointed chef at The Capital Hotel, returned to Vandyke Upper School in Leighton Buzzard for the official launch of its cookery department.

The chef, who struggled with dyslexia as a teenager but whose career has seen him work in the country's most prestigious kitchens, told students how cooking turned his life around, encouraging the less academic among them to consider a career as a chef.

  •  Adam Simmonds named executive head chef at London's Capital Hotel 

At the very least, he explained, he wanted them to realise that success and fulfilment isn't exclusive to those who study theoretical subjects.

He said that he "wasn't brilliant" himself at school and wants people to 

Adam Simmonds Leighton Buzzard

Adam Simmonds at the inauguration of

Vandyke Upper School's 

new food technology department

realise that by taking practical subjects off the curriculum, schools are denying opportunities to young people. 

"It was was a relief for me that I could do something with my hands without sitting behind a desk and getting bored and frustrated." 

"I'm not preaching but I think it's important that people stand up and realise that it's not acceptable to take these things out of schools." 

The chef said that cooking gave him a sense of worthiness and that a lack in confidence in kids "can be quite a painful thing." 

"I can only speak about my experiences but if you're helping kids - they may not want to be chefs - but what it may do is give them a little bit of sense that they can achieve something if they're not achieving in the classroom." 

Another thing the chef hoped students would gain through his intervention, and in any future relationship he has with the school, is an understanding of fresh produce, something which he sees as lacking in many households. 

"Obesity is quite high. People are drinking sugary drinks and eating processed foods. Certain families don't have time because of the situation with work and the pressures that people are under, but if the kids can understand it, they can help cook at home." 

"It becomes a multitude of things of why I believe it's a good thing."

In light of the industry's skills shortage, it's important to double down on efforts to encourage young people into the industry - like fostering their work-life balance with four-day weeks, as the chef plans to do when he and his team at The Capital are settled in - and cutting these subjects goes directly against that. 

And while, he said, there are limits to what you  can teach - because  young people need to remember that they can't be a head chef from day 1 and need to work hard to reach their goals  - with the right mindset, most have it in them to become an asset. 

"It's easy to say everyone is shit. But it's about how we as an industry, how we train people." 

"Patience is a virtue, my dad used to say. And that's very much the case today."

"It's about bringing youngsters on that have to have the right attitude and that's what I'm looking to employ people here. You're never going to get a kitchen full of superstars and why would you." 

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The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 4th July 2019

Taking practical subjects off the curriculum is denying young people a sense of purpose, says Adam Simmonds