At the moment, there are no restaurants with a Michelin star in Liverpool. But that looks set to change.
The Art School Restaurant serves mouth-watering food served with breath-taking beauty. But it may come as a surprise to some yet to experience top chef Paul Askew’s vision that he picks most of his talent from The City of Liverpool College. Top chef Paul has been taking hospitality and catering students under his wing at the Sugnall Street eatery for years. He employs former students to cook, has three apprentices and the front of house staff are hospitality students.
Photo by Nick Mizen
For the last decade he has been calling on the Royal Academy of Culinary Arts (RACA) to plug what he calls the “skills drain” in the north and launch a RACA training scheme to deliver gold-standard of chef training in Europe right here in Liverpool. Now, it will happen. The Art School, The City of Liverpool College and the RACA are working together to train chefs to a Michelin-star standard and not lose them to top restaurants in London and the south. It’s proof that Liverpool is a city where world-class chefs will learn their craft and hopefully open restaurants to rival famous restaurants at the end of the M1.
The Art School’s chef patron Paul Askew has given Independent Liverpool the low down on what the RACA partnership means for the city – and budding chefs. Paul said:
“This is quite a coup for The City of Liverpool College, being chosen by the Royal Academy of Culinary Arts to deliver this programme. Liverpool is the only city in the north of England to have an accredited RACA college delivering their training and the third in the whole country. Studying at the college will lead to good jobs in great restaurants and to be bestowed with the accolade of delivering RACA training is a very big deal. I’m fellow of the Royal Academy of Culinary Arts and chair of the North at the moment.We’ve been working on this for the last eight years and we want to stop the skills drain, as I call it, where young talented chefs leave the North and go and get trained in the South East. It’s very rare they come back to us again because they start to fly in the areas they have been training.”
Photo by Nick Mizen
He went on to say:
“So, we needed to break that cycle of losing the young talent of the future and retaining them to work in or open great restaurants of the future in the north. There has been an explosion of restaurants in Liverpool, Manchester and the north-west and more and more people are coming to these great cities to live, work and eat. If we take Liverpool, for example, I’ve met some people who are visiting for the first time in 15 or 20 years and they realise it’s not the same city they left all that time ago. The economic regeneration has been incredible. I started working back in Liverpool in 1995 and remember you could count the number of restaurants on one hand. There was a big void to fill, but of course the economy needed addressing. The Capital of Culture accolade certainly spurred us on, and the Duke of Westminster investment in Liverpool ONE just made the city explode. I think there is around 1,500 restaurant in the city now and there is so much choice; if you want to go for a special occasion and treat yourself to a top notch restaurant you can. Or if you want to eat cheaply you can. Liverpool’s culinary scene is driving the standards of quality. There is so much food culture here, from a greasy spoon, to gastro pubs, to incredible ethnic restaurants.”
Photo by Nick Mizen
There are 16 places available for 16-19 year-olds and all the trainees will receive industry-respected qualifications and sit the RACA final exam on completion of the course. If successful, the chefs will be awarded the coveted Royal Academy of Culinary Arts Diploma and become Graduates of the RACA. During the apprenticeship, the young chefs will attend the college each week for a day of formal training, practical work, culinary theory and assessments. The curriculum is cutting-edge and combines culinary traditions with modern developments and provides an unrivalled enrichment programme including demonstrations by leading chefs, “stages” at top restaurants and field trips to food producers. The new recruits will undergo an intensive culinary traineeship before they start paid employment in industry, under the guidance of senior chefs, in January 2017. It’s a lot of hard work. But it means the north will become a powerhouse of food culture. The lead Chef Tutor for the RACA course itself is Ian Jaundoo the college’s Academy Restaurants Executive Chef who has many years of teaching and industry led experience. Ian is a Fellow of the Craft Guild of Chefs and Master Chef of Great Britain and has mentored many of the young chefs who now work under Paul’s guidance.