From education to employment

Landmark partnership between catering colleges, industry and The Chefs’ Forum

Neil Rippington, Director of Education for The Chefs’ Forum

The Perfect Partner for Catering Education 

The Chefs’ Forum and Neil Rippington are re-writing and re-imagining the culinary repertoire so it reflects skills and not out of date dishes.

The result is a landmark partnership between catering colleges, industry and The Chefs’ Forum.

Whether you are a lecturer, restaurateur or chef we want you to get involved in this process. It’s crucial for the future of the chefs profession and of hospitality as a whole.

Neil Rippington explains his process and his plans for the future:

My project objective is to bring the industry and culinary education closer together. I get frustrated hearing chefs and restauranteurs/hoteliers constantly saying that the curriculum is out of date and the dishes/products/skills and techniques taught in colleges are not fit for purpose. If this is true, and I’m sure it is in many cases, then how will it ever be resolved without some input and collaboration?

I understand the requirements of publicly funded and approved qualifications and the pressures on teachers/lecturers to complete programmes on time. It is a very lengthy process to write and get approval for a new curriculum as there is a massive amount of government machinery to navigate and it is a nightmare.

To provide an example of my intentions, I have started the process with a dessert from Luke Frost (Valrhona). Luke has provided his version of the classic ‘Tiramisu’ using a variety of commodities, skills and techniques that make this classic a more contemporary and refined dessert. I will take Luke’s dessert and map it to the relevant units and the commodities, skills and techniques that students must cover in each module, across the UK’s three most widely studied qualifications.

I intend to get a network of chefs to contribute towards this project and provide an example to colleges, Ofsted and the government that leading figures in the industry care about what is being taught in colleges by demonstrating their contribution and showing how they would approach the requirements of the curriculum, whilst meeting the needs of the contemporary industry. Chickens cut for sauté and into chasseur, sole dugleré, minestrone, tiramisu, etc., may be great dishes that have been around my entire life, but they are not representative of the current industry, and this is the message I am hearing (and have heard for some time!) When looking at the specifications in the handbooks of various qualifications, dishes are rarely mentioned, so there is an element of freedom in terms of how the processes can be used to produce a wide range of dishes and/or products.

I plan to coordinate a wide range of dishes and products to meet the criteria across the most widely used qualifications. I will complete all the mapping so that lecturers will have fully tested/reliable recipe/dish examples that are specifically tied to the curriculum, designed, and contributed by leading industry figures across the breadth of the industry.

In my opinion, this must be a good thing for the students, CPD for the lecturers and a bridge, partnership and voice for the industry. I am also going to cover aspects of seasonality, sustainability, produce and supply. An all-round win! It will demonstrate a step in the right direction and provide a positive example to those who say the curriculum is out-of-date and not fit for purpose! If people want to see positive change, why not contribute to solving the problem rather than adding to it?

I also believe there is much to do in terms of students’ preparation for the workplace from an attitudinal and behavioural perspective, alongside the industry’s wider mentorship and support for young people and new staff when joining their businesses. This is another bridge that needs to be built across many areas of the industry. One step at a time.

Neil Rippington, Director of Education for The Chefs’ Forum

Related Articles