Crown pub in Hastings Old Town is helping to shape the future of talented young chefs

A popular Old Town pub is playing a vital role in encouraging young people to become accomplished chefs

Wednesday, 29th January 2020, 6:00 am
Crown Apprentices SUS-200127-094426001

Throwing yourself in at the deep end and cooking in a busy commercial kitchen with a team of professional chefs is not always what the average teenager is looking for, but two young catering apprentices have risen to the challenge.

Tess and Andrew Swan, who run the Crown in All Saints Street, are really proud the people who have come into their kitchen with little or no experience of cooking and have found a passion for food.

Tess said: Some get hooked on the kitchen environment; the pace, the ingredients, the teamwork and the creativity then that’s it, they’re off and running towards the role of a chef.”

One example is Daniel Ibbotson started as a Kitchen Porter at The Crown and has now moved on to a successful career at Etch, a top fine dining restaurant in Brighton, owned by top TV chef Stephen Edwards.

Niamh Carroll started out as a Kitchen Porter at The Crown, washing plates and peeling potatoes. She is now half way through a course at East Sussex College Group as a Level 2 Commis Chef.

She has progressed so well that she is now adding dishes to the menu, managing the ‘pass’ and operating the cookline.

Niamh said: “I didn’t know what I wanted to do until I found my love for cooking.”

She now wants to have her own pub or restaurant one day and is learning about all aspects of The Crown’s business from pricing up menus, ordering stock and seeing life on the other side with some shifts on the bar.

Niamh added: “I find working in a team amazing as you all have that support for each other. If you are doing something you are not very confident about, you have always got someone to show you.”

Apprentice Dru Hockney, joined the team after completing a three day work experience as part of his Catering Advanced Diploma. Tess and Andrew saw a keenness to learn, a friendly persona and an eagerness to get involved.

Like Niamh, Dru hopes to become a Head Chef one day but both acknowledge how much hard work this will take. Dru said: “Working in a team is so useful because it gets things done quicker! But more importantly, everyone encourages each other to get through service.”

The Crown feels that offering short or long term opportunities to people with no experience has become essential in combating the general crisis in recruitment within the catering industry, particularly in retaining people long enough for them to train up as chefs.

Tess said: “As part of a new generation of hospitality professionals, we like to think we are part of the spear-head for positive change in catering careers.

“We believe the industry can be a fantastic place to work and we want to play our part in ushering in a new generation of soon to be brilliant chefs.”