Gary Hunter, Westminster Kingsway College

The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 18th May 2017
Gary Hunter

Gary Hunter discusses his role as Head of faculty for Hospitality and Culinary Arts at Westminster Kingsway College and his own inspirations with regards to pursuing a career as a Chef.

Name: Gary Hunter

Place of work: Westminster Kingsway College

Role: Head of faculty for Hospitality and Culinary Arts

Bio: Gary has been the Head of faculty for Hospitality and Culinary Arts for 19 years, managing a large sector that delivers programmes to approximately 2000 students each year for full time, part time, scholarship, apprenticeship and bespoke courses. He also runs two full-time public restaurants, a contemporary student cafe and a small retail outlet at the college. For the last 14 years Gary has also been a chocolate ambassador for Barry Callebaut, delivering seminars, demonstrations, courses and advisory sessions alongside the UK Ambassador Team 

Chef Skills

Gary Hunter 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?

12 years.

What are your ultimate top five tips for someone looking to start a career in the hospitality sector?

  1. Research the industry as much as possible through eating out regularly, social media, reading books and most importantly working a stagier for a week or so to experience the industry first-hand.
  2. Talk to people who currently work in the industry to see what the downsides and upsides are to working in hospitality.
  3. Get a head start and sign up at a good college to begin education and training for the industry. There are many different courses that should suit your individual needs.
  4. Become a member of an association (even at junior level) such as the Craft Guild of Chefs who can offer advice and support for your career.
  5. Make sure that you follow your passion for what you want to do in your career. Our work is very demanding and often unsociable with long hours, so it is imperative to love your work!

What are the main things that young Chefs should be doing to build their CVs up? 

 1. Obtain qualifications at good educational establishments with strong reputations to enhance your CV. This shows a commitment to self-  development and progression.

 2. Work in the best kitchens as you possibly can to gain experience and that all important reference.

 3. Enter culinary competitions to demonstrate your ability to work under pressure, your keenness to drive standards, work outside your regular hours and enhance the reputation of your employers if you win!

4. Get your CV professionally written and link it to social media and websites – think about your own social media account and whether it portrays you in a professional manner.

Who are the key Chefs and restaurants that someone should be speaking to and trying to gain experience with?

There are too many to mention because we work in such a diverse industry. Try contacting a Chefs Association for guidance and support. Learn which restaurants in your locality are the best and ask to spend some time in the

How important would you say further education is in this industry?

Further education is incredibly important because the courses are designed to update and enhance skills and knowledge beyond that of your restaurant menu which you prepare and cook on a day to day basis. It takes you out of your comfort zone and takes you to the next level, and the right course will challenge and stretch your abilities to deliver at a higher standard. Any Chef who states that further education and training isn’t necessary is afraid of change in an industry that is constantly evolving.

Any other tips from a lecturer’s perspective? 

I think it’s very important to always try and better yourself on a daily basis. Within a kitchen environment, if you can achieve this on a consistent basis you will learn more, obtain a good reputation of reliability in your kitchen, become a stronger team player and will be given more opportunities to progress. Don’t turn up for work on time… always arrive early!

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The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 18th May 2017

Gary Hunter, Westminster Kingsway College