Devon Launch at Southernhay House 21st May 2012

Top Devon Chefs’ attended a sunny launch of The Chefs’ Forum at the beautiful Southernhay House in Exeter yesterday.  It is a very exciting time to be involved in the catering and hospitality industry in Devon. The ongoing success of The Chefs’ Forum in Bristol meant that Devon chefs welcomed the launch of their own regional chapter of the prestigious and popular networking group for chefs, suppliers and local catering colleges.

Headed up by local food heroes Simon Hulstone (The Elephant, Torquay) and Peter Gorton (Gorton’s of Tavistock), The Chefs’ Forum aims to bring together the three groups and harness the great culinary talent and knowledge in the area as well as offering excellent networking opportunities to young student chefs. The project is expanding after a hugely successful launch in Bristol where channels of communication were opened up between the catering industry, education and suppliers – a need that was established by food marketing consultants Catherine Farinha and Abby Allen in talking to education, industry and trade. The Forum runs all year and is punctuated by quarterly networking events in both Bristol and Devon.

The Chefs’ Forum events will be held at venues designed to showcase the best elements of the industry: From top end hotels and restaurants to meat and vegetable farms and College training restaurants.

Peter Gorton does a great deal of mentoring work with budding chefs and says that he is “Really happy to be involved as any initiative which enhances learning in enthusing and motivating young people to join the hospitality industry as a career choice is fantastic!”

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Throughout the year, The Forum will serve as a knowledge bank to provide information on everyday professional needs from recruitment to produce and equipment.  It will also enlist talented young apprentices from the local catering colleges into member restaurants and providing students with a unique opportunity to see how the industry works. Each gathering will host interesting and exciting speakers, demonstrations and quality local producers. Quality suppliers will be invited to showcase their wares which will help support the use of their products in Devon’s top restaurants.

Both Exeter College and City College Plymouth are excited to be involved as means that their gifted young catering students are able to mingle with top chefs from the area and understand more about how the industry works as well as having the opportunity to secure apprenticeships and work experience that previously took more effort to organise.

Simon Hulstone, at The Elephant said “All good chefs have benefited from good mentors and role models at some point in their career and its hugely important to help inspire the next generation. Whether its through an apprenticeship or a weeks work experience at The Elephant, I find it very rewarding to help young chefs build their confidence and to see firsthand how hard work, determination and passion pays off. The Chefs Forum is a great initiative which brings together all the best bits of the local catering scene – Im proud to be a part of it.

Hew Southcott, Deputy Head of Faculty Hospitality & Catering at Exeter College added, “Staff and students from the Hospitality and Catering department are really excited about the launch of the Devon Forum. The students will really benefit from the range of opportunities offered by The Chefs’ Forum. It is important that our students gain up to date industry-related skills and this will be another opportunity for them to be able to network with top chefs and producers which will help them to secure work experience and apprenticeships”

Helen Marshall from City College Plymouth is also delighted to be joining The Chefs’ Forum and concludes,“We are delighted to be part of this essential link between the college and industry colleagues so that together we can raise the profile of Devon Chefs and promote all the industry has to offer as a first choice career. The pro-active and collaborative approach offered by the forum will support the future skills needs of the sector and provide the best possible training opportunities for young people leading to employment”.