A New Benchmark for Culinary Education and the Industry it Aspires to Serve

Neil Rippington, Director of Education at The Chefs’ Forum is championing a project to explore contemporary ways to cover the curriculum, as he has repeatedly heard that ‘the curriculum’ is out of date and not fit for purpose.


If chefs of high regard and influence have a platform to voice their opinions and ideas for coverage, a working partnership between educators and industry is naturally developed, bringing us closer together in the reimagining of a curriculum that is fit for the future. There is also a much wider development to consider when we look at topics such as work-readiness, career development, the hospitality business, character attributes and personal development. So much to consider but I believe a great opportunity at a vital time for the industry. One step at a time!

My initial thoughts are around the skills and techniques required in industry today, and then building on this to provide a repertoire that supports students and educators as they prepare for a career in industry. It might sound simple but this is a complex challenge as the industry is so diverse. Over the last few days (and years!), I’ve heard people mentioning roux-based sauces, chicken cut for sauté, dressed crab, alongside many other examples, as being products taught in colleges that are not reflective of today’s industry requirements. How do we take such skills, dishes, products and spin them to make them more fit for purpose and give them credibility?

The whole ethos of working in the industry has changed. We need to react to the rapid changes that we have seen and create a “new benchmark” for both students and employers. Employers and educators need to come together in the production of the new benchmark and a mindset of working towards a sustainable and exciting future. My initial thinking is to take the basics of government-funded qualifications and apply contemporary ideas as to how to approach each area, building on the skills with a wider appreciation of industry practices.

This is an opportunity for the industry to come together in support of education, gaining an insight into what must be covered to complete qualifications and then helping to steer the learning content and make it relevant for today’s industry. It provides the opportunity to shape the curriculum, identify essential content that might be missing, and bridge the gap between education and industry.

We must join forces to make the industry an attractive career proposition and prepare students for careers in the modern industry with a curriculum that covers the foundations but also explores technology, innovation and creative development. Employers also need to play their part in ensuring that their businesses are structured to welcome recruits and provide them with a positive a supportive working environment and a motivational and inspirational career journey.

I am delighted that the initial response to the concept has been received so positively. Inspirational chefs including Glynn Purnell, Jamie Houghton (Le Manoir aux quat’saisons and President of the UK Pastry Team), Gary Maclean (Scotland’s National Chef and former MasterChef: The Professionals winner), Luke Frost (Valrhona), Lisa Goodwin-Allen (Northcote) and Chris Galvin have all agreed to contribute to the development and I am looking forward to establishing the new benchmark for education and industry. Professor David Foskett has also agreed to support the initiative and its development from an educational perspective. The team brings a wealth of experience and, with it, the foundation of a great project.

However, we cannot do this without the wider support of chefs and the industry. I am aware of how busy everyone is, particularly in current times, and therefore I would like to invite a wider, but smaller, contribution. This will also allow me to collect contributions from different sectors of the industry to ensure that the coverage is diverse and comprehensive.

Please get in touch if you would like to contribute to the project. It will be great to hear from you and your ideas as to how you might contribute.

Many hands make light work and the future is in our hands!

Get in touch with Neil Rippington, Director of Education neil@redcherry.uk.com or call 07766 741 318.