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A tough job, but very rewarding

28/02/2011

Hotel Maiyango’s head chef Phil Sharpe expects nothing but the best from his apprentices.
Phil, the man behind the city’s boutique hotel restaurant, in St Nicholas Place, says the young people who are currently coming through his ranks, courtesy of Leicester College, are “fantastic”.
“We expect the best. It’s a tough job but you get out what you put into it,” he said.
Phil, who has helped the restaurant gain an AA rosette for culinary excellence, is looking to take on five more apprentices as part of the Leicester Mercury’s apprenticeship challenge to match 100 people to 100 jobs.
More than 1,000 enthusiastic would-be apprentices have come forward, along with more than 40 firms since the challenge launched a month ago.
Phil said: “The relationship we have with Leicester College has been excellent. We like to take on apprentices because it means we can mould them to our high standards and we find working with young people is really rewarding.
“We want people with lots of personality, a real passion for food and willing to put the hard work in.”
The two-year apprenticeship in professional cookery means the work is entirely “on-the-job” with no days spent in college.
Instead, staff from the college go to the hotel to assess progress and skills.
Josh Knapp, 18, from Beaumont Leys, started his apprenticeship eight months ago and says there’s no looking back.
He said: “I’ve learned everything, from how to gut a fish to how to make a top notch sauce.
“It’s hard work, but I enjoy it and I know I’m learning in a great environment that will stand me in good stead.
“My dream is to have my own restaurant one day.”
The college’s hospitality assessor Christian Knott said: “It’s great for them to have this opportunity opened up for them.”
Hospitality is one of the country’s fastest-growing industries in terms of apprenticeships, says Leicester College .
Students can go on to be waiting staff, bar and front-of-house managers or train as chefs.
Everyone working in the food industry now requires the Basic Food Hygiene qualification, in which the college holds regular classes.