The expert panel
Our expert panel comprises representatives from the Hotel and Catering Training Company (HCTC), Accor Hotels UK & Ireland, Greene King Pub Company, MaydayExec, Bartlett Mitchell, Learnpurple, Conran Restaurants, and Portfolio International.
The question I am currently working as an IT consultant and am considering a complete career change to become a chef. I am interested in taking a private course, but is this a respected route within the industry?
A complete career change is a major leap. Before embarking on your change of direction towards a chef career you need to consider the time and commitment required to ensure it will be a success.
It may be a good idea to contact some of your local restaurants to undertake a few trial shifts to see if the hustle and bustle of a working kitchen is something you enjoy. There are a number of private courses that are recognised within the industry, for example, Leiths or Cordon Bleu. Alternatively, contact your local colleges and find out about catering National Vocational Qualifications (NVQs). These courses take you through fundamental cookery skills to advanced cookery. You can do these either as a full-time course or combine them with a job and do day release.
David Goldfarb, director, MaydayExec
There are reputable companies that offer courses in London, such as Le Cordon Bleu, London Culinary Institute and Leiths. The price of the courses vary depending on the length and level you attend. Both Leiths and Le Cordon Bleu offer courses leading to professional qualifications and courses for enthusiastic amateurs, details of which can be found on the companies' websites at www.leiths.com or www.lcblondon.com.
Alternatively, local colleges offer a wide variety of courses on a part-time or full-time basis. Why not try the Springboard website, www.springboarduk.org.uk, which will show you all the different colleges around the country?
Many hotels and restaurants offer NVQs or equivalent training, and a full-time position will help develop other skills, as the environment of a busy kitchen is something that can be experienced only on the job.
Ian Horrox, human resources director, Conran Restaurants
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