A decade-long partnership between a leading local college and one of the country’s most well respected chefs has been celebrated. 

The partnership between Truro and Penwith College and the Rick Stein Group began in the 2007/08 academic year with the opportunity for three young people to start their careers as catering Apprentices at Rick Stein’s Seafood Restaurant in Padstow. 

Senior members of staff from both organisations came together last week at Rick Stein’s Cookery School in Padstow to join the tenth group of Apprentices at a ‘Talk and Taste’ event, where Apprentices each prepared tasters from one of Rick Stein’s books and discussed their experiences since starting their Apprenticeship in November 2018. 

Throughout the ten year partnership both the College and the Rick Stein Group have enjoyed continued growth, in a period that has seen 80 Apprentices start their careers at one of seven Cornish-based Rick Stein Group restaurants.

While the majority have been kitchen-based roles, Apprentices have also trained in team leadership, retail and warehousing roles. 

Rick Stein attended the event to sample the food prepared by his latest group and awarded the ‘Kyle Award’ to Scott Wallace from Rick Stein, Porthleven.

The annual Kyle Award is presented to the Group’s most improved Apprentice, in memory of Kyle Kusano-Puffett, a Rick Stein Group Apprentice who tragically lost his life in 2015 while on day out with friends.  

Rick Stein has always seen Apprenticeships as a key way of sharing his knowledge and passion for professional cookery and the business and people skills needed to be a success in an increasingly competitive industry.  

“There is no substitute for learning whilst working as you quickly develop the skills you need to progress in this fast paced industry,” he said. “We’re proud to support Apprenticeships and work with those who are passionate about great food and making people smile." 

Over the years many Apprentices have gone on to enjoy successful careers in the industry. Pete Murt from Padstow joined the Rick Stein Group as a kitchen porter with no previous kitchen experience and was soon identified as a member of staff with promise.

He progressed to Commis Chef and Chef de Partie roles but wanting to advance his career, Pete studied the first of two Apprenticeships in 2008.  

In a career that has seen him work in a number of restaurants across the UK, Pete is now Head Chef of Rick Stein’s Sandbanks restaurant in Dorset where he manages 30 members of staff in the kitchen, is responsible for designing restaurant menus and ensures the menus are delivered to the Rick Stein Group’s exceptional quality. 

Pete commented: “The Apprenticeship gave me a formal qualification in the industry which made it easier to progress and I believe I demonstrated a lot of willpower and commitment to a career in the industry by completing the course.  

Apprentices are not the only learners who have benefited from the partnership. In 2015 the College and Rick Stein Group launched the Rick Stein Academy.

In addition to the already successful Apprenticeship training the Academy introduced opportunities for full-time students at the college to attend workshops with head chefs from the Rick Stein Group and visits to suppliers.

Another key objective of the Academy involved Apprentices and colleagues from the Rick Stein Group visiting Cornish schools to educate young people about opportunities in the Cornish hospitality industry and raise aspirations.  

The Rick Stein Academy was revamped in 2018 to offer students even more career-boosting opportunities. Twelve full-time learners from both Truro and Penwith Colleges are now selected on an annual basis to attend elite masterclasses and to be mentored by a head chef from the Rick Stein Group, who they will also work with to complete their work experience.  

Martin Tucker, director of Truro and Penwith College Business, said: “The partnership with the Rick Stein Group is one that the college is very proud of. Relationships with high calibre employers who are committed to providing quality experiences and opportunities to our Apprenticeship learners underpins everything our Apprenticeship provision is about. 

"The fact that full-time students have also benefitted from the partnership since 2015 is very exciting for all young people with a desire to train in the industry and we look forward to working with the team for many years to come."