How is chef Paul Ainsworth helping to encourage the next generation of chefs?

The  Staff Canteen

Prospective young chefs have a unique opportunity to apply for a new hospitality apprenticeship scheme which is being run by chef Paul Ainsworth in conjunction with Truro and Penwith College.

At the age of sixteen, it is fair to say that chef Paul Ainsworth knew his future was in the kitchen. Fuelled by an inherited strong work ethic from his parents and a passion for cooking, young Paul took himself off to Southampton College to study catering and the rest they say is history. He spoke to The Staff Canteen about how he wants to help encourage more young people into hospitality and his new apprenticeship scheme.

Paul and his team

Paul has set up a new apprenticeship scheme in partnership with Truro and Penwith college to find a new generation of hospitality workers who will hopefully emulate his success. They will have the opportunity to work in either front of house or back of house positions across his Michelin-starred Paul Ainsworth at No 6 and AA rosette Rojanos in the Square restaurants in Padstow.

So, who can apply to be Paul Ainsworth’s apprentice? You need to be between the ages of 16 and 19, but the successful candidates may not have ever picked up a kitchen knife in their life. It’s all down to having the right attitude and mentality. 

“The people with no experience but lots of passion are the best ones," said Paul. "If you are well-mannered, humble and you are super hungry and full of desire - honestly it doesn’t matter if you haven’t picked up a knife in your life. It’s about mentality and attitude that is the key. You don’t even have had to have picked up a pan in your life. We’ve got an ex-Royal Marine at the moment and he has come in here and has just been promoted to a chef de partie and he has only been cooking a year.”

Could schemes like this help curtail the on-going chef shortage crisis?

Paul said: “I don’t know if this will make a change, but at least I am trying to have a crack. Let’s give students in Cornwall an opportunity to work alongside us and get a good insight into what it’s like to work at a very high standard. Hopefully, it will play its part and strengthen the industry and put skills back into it, but you won’t know until you try."

quote paulPaul wanted to set up an apprenticeships scheme to ‘add a direct pipeline’ to the colleges which he is keen to highlight the advantages of, he said:  "I look at it as ‘don’t miss those years of going to college and learning’ – don’t go straight into a hot kitchen at the age of 16 – ease into it and I think that’s where colleges can play a huge benefit."

By offering an apprenticeship where youngsters can take advantage of a college education whilst gaining that all-important practical restaurant experience is pivotal in Paul’s eyes. He also wants to ensure that the apprenticeship scheme is run ethically and properly. 

“We are going to pay an apprenticeship a good wage," he explained. "We are not just going to go with the government guidelines. We are going to bring them in show them the inner workings of a busy restaurant and hotel and what it’s about. That way we can have a direct relationship with the college, with the apprentices. College should be fun, and, in this industry, they play a great role.”

Paul cites that having an open dialogue with the apprentices will help not only manage expectations but will also ensure that they stick to the best career path for them. 

He said: “When that person is ready to leave college, I ask them ‘where do you want to go? Do you want me to go get you a job with Sat Bains? With Tom Kerridge? With Daniel (Clifford)?’. For me, they have got the best of both worlds – they are going to be working somewhere that every day strives to be the best that they can be - whether they want to be front of house or back of house.”

Paul Ainsworth

If Paul could do it all again would he have taken up an apprenticeship? He is unequivocal in his response: “Definitely! If I could have had that opportunity – working in a Michelin-starred kitchen AND going to college – you have the best of both worlds.”

One of the strongest influences on Paul from his time at college was his lecturer Martin Nash and Paul’s experience demonstrates the power of a mentor. Paul explained:“I did college full time and I don’t regret any of it. It was all done to an amazing man who is no longer with us. His name was Martin Nash and he was brilliant. He was a great example of a college lecturer that was so in touch with the industry – we all idolised him and wanted to impress him. He was just phenomenal. He and Gary Rhodes were best friends at college and remained in contact and that’s how I got my job with Gary.”

He added: “That relationship was amazing and that was all from Martin Nash – him being my college lecturer. For me, college played a massive part in where I am now and opening doors for me and helping me progress.”

Another strong influence for Paul was his mum and dad who ran a B&B and it is here that Paul witnessed the importance of a strong work ethic. He recalled: “When I told my dad that I wanted to be a chef his first reaction was ‘you do realise what you are getting yourself into?’. The one bit of advice my dad gave me was ‘if you are going to do it – make sure that you work for the best’ and I did – I went and worked for the best there was and is.”

By Emma Harrison


In these challenging times…

The Staff Canteen team are taking a different approach to keeping our website independent and delivering content free from commercial influence. Our Editorial team have a critical role to play in informing and supporting our audience in a balanced way. We would never put up a paywall and restrict access – The Staff Canteen is open to all and we want to keep bringing you the content you want; more from younger chefs, more on mental health, more tips and industry knowledge, more recipes and more videos. We need your support right now, more than ever, to keep The Staff Canteen active. Without your financial contributions this would not be possible.

Over the last 12 years, The Staff Canteen has built what has become the go-to platform for chefs and hospitality professionals. As members and visitors, your daily support has made The Staff Canteen what it is today. Our features and videos from the world’s biggest name chefs are something we are proud of. We have over 500,000 followers across Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and other social channels, each connecting with chefs across the world. Our editorial and social media team are creating and delivering engaging content every day, to support you and the whole sector - we want to do more for you.

A single coffee is more than £2, a beer is £4.50 and a large glass of wine can be £6 or more.

Support The Staff Canteen from as little as £1 today. Thank you.

The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 16th August 2018

How is chef Paul Ainsworth helping to encourage the next generation of chefs?