Simon Hulstone says 'skills crisis, no it's an attitude one' as apprentice drops out from role

The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 25th August 2017

Michelin starred chef, Simon Hulstone has taken to Twitter to vent his frustration at apprentice’s lack of commitment to the industry.

Top chef Simon Hulstone was left disappointed on Thursday, when an apprentice who was meant to be joining Simon’s Torquay restaurant, The Elephant next week told the chef the role was no longer for him.

Speaking to The Staff Canteen, Simon said: “It’s frustrating because we put our trust in a young person and we wanted them to succeed and work with us and it’s also frustrating for the people at HIT Training, who have done all the paperwork and set up the courses for them.”

The apprentice had been in training for around six months and was due to start in the role on September 1, along with another apprentice who is already working with Simon.

“At the end of the day we’re almost used to it now, there’s no commitment, no loyalty, and it’s not even a face-to-face conversation - it’s a text message, a message from their dad or girlfriend and it’s just bollocks, to be honest with you.” 

In one of Simon's tweets, the chef comments that he doesn't feel there is a lack of skills in the industry, but a lack of attitude. When we spoke to Simon, the chef recalled being paid a lot less in his first role but never once complaining. 

He said: “I just thought that was part and parcel of it and it’s probably wrong that we worked like that and got paid as little as what we did but it hasn’t done me any harm.”

Encouraging a younger generation of chefs to join the industry is becoming increasingly more difficult, and getting them to stay in the job is an even bigger challenge than ever before.

"Colleges will argue that they’re sending students out there but we’re not seeing any", says Simon. 

"We have tried to make them welcome but they just shit on you. We don't want to be lenient to one person because we want them to stay. The other staff are like 'why are you being so nice to them? We wouldn’t have got away with that chef' and you’re thinking, well I don’t want him to leave!"

With the changes in government over the past couple of years, Simon fears what effect leaving the EU will have on the industry as a whole. It was reported back in June that celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay had even brought in a team of experts to negotiate cheaper food prices following Brexit.

"With Brexit, I am seeing more and more problems arising", says Simon.

Ali and foster carer, John Stokes
Ali and foster carer, John Stokes

Unfortunately, the changes in law may also see Simon's other apprentice, 18-year-old Albanian chef, Ali deported next month as he loses the right to stay in the UK.

"We have got amazing support coming from all sides of the industry, I’m not very hopeful though because of the whole system and what upsets me more than anything is that I voted for the system that would deport him!"

Ali managed to leave his ‘troubled and distressing life’ in Albania by hitching a ride on the back of a lorry at the age of 16. Sleeping rough on a park bench in Bristol, Ali found help through the local council and was placed with a foster carer, John Stokes. Ali is now on track to becoming one of Britain's promising young chefs after being taken under Simon's wing.

If Ali does get extradited following his court case on September 4, Simon will be left without either apprentice. 

Commenting on the state of the industry today, Simon said: "I would say it’s one of the most exciting times for food but one of the worst times to be a chef." 

He continued:"It can only start going back up, but I think we have a long way to go down first."

By Michael Parker

@canteenparker

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The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 25th August 2017

Simon Hulstone says 'skills crisis, no it's an attitude one' as apprentice drops out from role