Nurturing young talent in restaurants is an essential in a city such as Brighton & Hove, not only for individual businesses but also the wider hospitality economy. Nick Mosley talks to chef-patron Steven Edwards of Etch in Church Road and his talented young chef George Boarer, winner of Young Chef of the Year 2017 at this month’s Brighton & Hove Food and Drink Awards.
As a head chef and restaurateur, how important is it to celebrate the achievements of emerging talents?
Steven: This is really important and some restaurants don’t do it enough. For me its another selling point for the restaurant but ultimately we want George to do well and hopefully one day become head chef of Etch. Its hard to get a profile as a chef and winning Young Chef of the Year is a great start to hopefully a successful career for him.
As a business how do you encourage young talent in your kitchen?
Steven: This has always been something I try and do. The team is young at Etch but through training and guidance, I like to think we can progress young chefs to the next level. Giving both responsibility and consequence helps to
get the most out of the team.
Do you think that hospitality is seen as a valid career path for young people?
Steven: It’s still not where it should be but it is definitely looked at in a much more positive light. I still remember when I told my parents I wanted to be a chef and they looked really disappointed. Nowadays with all the cooking on TV its seen as more an artistic profession.
Where are the gaps in skills training in the city?
Steven: I’m not sure there is a gap. I think the biggest problem with our industry is the expectation of young chefs and waiters. They want everything straight away but to be good at something it takes time and dedication. You need to spend time on each section and dedicate a good amount of time to each business before you move on. Chefs and waiters move on too quickly to get a promotion.
How did you find the competition day at Hotel du Vin?
George: It was a competition I was really excited about participating in. I was nervous to begin with but once I started I cooking I was ‘in the zone’.
What do you think of your fellow finalists?
George: I made some new friends. I’d never met either George Ousley (Isaac At) or Jackson Heron (64 Degrees) before. I would like to stay in touch with both as we all share the same passion in food.
From your experience, is there sufficient opportunity for young people to develop their hospitality skills in the city?
George: Yes. As a young chef Brighton is a fantastic place to start cooking. There are restaurants for every type of chef and its getting better with a booming food scene.
Etch, 216 Church Road, Brighton BN3 2DJ • 01273 227 485 • www.etchfood.co.uk