Build the Future: an interview with Chef Apprentice James Franklin
It’s National Apprenticeship Week this week and we’re celebrating some of Marston’s brightest and best apprentices.
A passion for food and drink and the drive to solidify a great career straight out of school were the motivating factors in Level 2 Production Chef apprentice James Franklin’s decision to join team Marston’s at The Spindle & Thread in High Wycombe.
We talked to James about the skills he’s been developing and how it’s helped to kick-start his career.
What inspired you to become a chef?
Personally, the first food I remember was actually something I found in one of my first ever children’s cook books. They were teddy bear bread rolls covered in poppy seeds and, to this day, I am still amazed by them. I have very fond memories cooking these with my Mum from a young age.
I’ve always had a passion for food and creating dishes even from a very young age. I vividly remember watching cooking shows and creating recipes with my Nana. She’s my cooking inspiration.
Why did you want to do an apprenticeship?
I was drawn to doing an apprenticeship because I wanted to get out of the school environment and start an exciting new opportunity. It was definitely the best decision I have ever made and would recommend it to anyone. I did look at colleges, and I was set on going to one, but something was just telling me to do an apprenticeship and I’m so happy I did. The great thing about my apprenticeship is: not only am I learning loads about things that will benefit my future career, but you get paid on the job, which is extremely useful so I can start saving from an early age.
What’s a day in your working life like?
I have loved my apprenticeship, it has opened my eyes to so many amazing opportunities and I am so grateful to have been given such an amazing experience. A day in the life of James, where do I begin…? When I arrive at work, I always ensure my station is prepared and ready for service during that day. It’s crucial to keep the kitchen clean and organised for a smooth-running service. After service is completed, for the day, it’s extremely important to clean and tidy the kitchen to maintain a high level of hygiene. The team will usually take 10 minutes or so to relax with each other, at the end of each shift, which is really nice. I’ve received amazing training both from my teammates and Lifetime Training, which has taught me so much. I have fond memories of my Head Chef training me and I am grateful for the support provided to me.
“It was definitely the best decision I have ever made”
Why did you decide to do your apprenticeship with Marston’s?
I chose Marston’s because it’s very evident that they have a passion for supporting young people and providing them with amazing opportunities, to help them flourish within the business. I also love the fact Marston’s is very eco-friendly and they have thought about numerous ways to reduce carbon footprint.
My apprenticeship has also inspired me to consider my career path within the industry and has opened my eyes to various job roles in the catering sector. I’m grateful for this opportunity because not only have I progressed within my job role, I’ve also gained a lot of confidence in myself and gained crucial experience in the industry.
Tell us about The Spindle & Thread.
Where do I begin? The Spindle & Thread is truly an amazing, family friendly pub. We ensure that guests feel at home within the pub and we always make sure they leave with a smile on their face. I am extremely lucky to work with a supportive, hardworking, lovely team who inspire me every day: I couldn’t ask for a better bunch of people to work with. I would have to say our carvery is definitely a guest favourite, with golden roast potatoes and giant Yorkshire puddings… can you blame them?!
“It has opened my eyes to so many amazing opportunities”
How far has it taken you in your career to date and what’s next?
My apprenticeship has really taught me so much and it has introduced me to some pretty amazing opportunities. For example, I am currently training for a Supervisor role which is super exciting, as Marston’s encourages people to progress within the company and rewards people for hard work and dedication. My trainer, Paula, has supported me throughout my apprenticeship, she has provided a fun and inspiring learning experience.
What kind of person does it take to become a great chef?
To be a chef, you need to be hardworking and passionate about the experience for guests. Creativity is also extremely important, to help you overcome obstacles.
What’s your favourite dish to cook and why?
It would have to be steak, medium rare. I enjoy cooking steak, the grill marks are extremely satisfying. I also love serving the carvery, because I love interacting with the guests.
If you could give one piece of advice to someone on their first day of the Marston’s apprenticeship, what would it be?
Stay calm, if you make a mistake, pick yourself back up and learn from it. Making mistakes is normal and is truly the best way to learn!