From education to employment

Michelin chef launches apprentice academy at Dean Clough

A high achieving Michelin-trained chef from Yorkshire has launched a new Hospitality and Catering Apprentice Academy at the historic Dean Clough Mill complex in Halifax.  

Matthew Benson-Smith, who prefers to avoid the limelight enjoyed by his celebrity peers, is dedicating his time to training, and empowering the next generation of aspiring chefs, future managers and craft bakers in an industry that is currently in a state of decline. 

Chef Benson-Smith Academy is a new state-of-the-art, practical training facility, purpose designed to educate and mentor intimate numbers of apprentices working for establishments across the UK. The government registered and approved independent training academy is now operating level 2 -5 training programmes tailored to the requirements of a broad range of workplace clients.

Matthew Benson-Smith is a world-renowned figurehead who forged his culinary skills during his Michelin training at Ecole Lenotre Paris, Matthew made his mark in Yorkshire through helping convert Hazelwood Castle with his also renowned brother John Benson-Smith (ex-BBC MasterChef judge) before becoming Head Chef at Rudding Park Hotel.

His career highlights include Senior Chef positions at the 5-star Landmark and Browns Hotels in London, World Curry Festival Host & Demonstrator UK & Malaysia and Chef to the UK Prime Minister. He also worked in new product development for M&S products.

After becoming a Consultant Assessor/Examiner for City & Guilds of London Institute and a Consultant Assessor/Examiner for Highfield Qualifications, Matthew is pursuing his passion to deliver highly skilled professionals for Hotels, Restaurants, Fishmongers, Butchers and Bakers.

Matthew Benson-Smith was a Principal tutor and Director at the former cooking school at Dean Clough. He said,

“I am delighted to return to Dean Clough for this exciting venture that I feel is so important for the hospitality industry.  My father was a steel business entrepreneur in Sheffield and often hosted dinner parties from which I was raised to appreciate good food.  Both my brother John and I have forged great careers in the industry, and I want to inspire young people to do the same.  Certainly, the industry needs some positive injection after a turbulent few years throughout the pandemic and other economic events, and putting skilled and motivated individuals directly into the business is our objective.

“Dean Clough provides the perfect environment to help inspire our apprentices to be the best that they can. There is a special quality about the place with an ownership team that engenders strong family values and community spirit.  Good public transport accessible by foot is also an important attribute given that our apprentices travel from all over the UK.”

“The feedback so far from both employers and apprentices has been exceptional. Not only do they value the focused training they’re receiving, they also enjoy the culture and environment of Dean Clough Mills.”

Dean Clough is a former textile manufacturing site of historical importance, that spans over half a mile.  The entire site has been transformed over the last 40 years to become a highly sustainable and award-winning place for work rest and play for some 3,000 people. Through continued investment the destination is home to a diverse range of businesses, from corporate to independents, offering Grade A office accommodation alongside unique spaces for retail, leisure, and cultural amenity.

Jeremy Hall, Chairman and Managing Director at Dean Clough Ltd, said,

“We are so pleased to welcome Matthew and his team to Dean Clough.  To be a host to such an accomplished operator working for the greater good of an ailing industry whilst supporting fledgling careers is a reward indeed and we look forward to seeing some great achievements. Chef Benson-Smith is another fine example of our capacity to provide suitable space for a diverse range of occupiers.”

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