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“I was raised in a foodie family... now I work at the best restaurants in the world” – National Apprenticeship Week: Harvey’s Story

Diners travel for miles to visit L’Enclume, the three Michelin star restaurant in Cartmel, the picture-perfect village in the Lake District. Harvey Simpson was one of them.

Born into a family of foodies, he visited the renowned destination to sample it’s stunning menu. Little did he know that, some three years later, he’d be in the kitchen, prepping aspects of the courses he’d tasted and plating exquisite dishes.

“I’ve wanted to do this since I was about eight. My family worked in kitchens and I grew up in a house full of cook books, so it rubbed off on me.”

It’s a dream that would eventually come to fruition for Harvey. Now 17, he relocated from Runcorn to Cumbria to become an Apprentice Chef on Simon Rogan’s Academy programme. It means, as well as spending around 8 hours a week in the classroom, he also gains hands-on experience working in some of the UK and world’s best restaurants.

He’s around 18 months into his experience now. The Academy programme takes apprentices on an eye-opening rotation around the renowned chef’s destinations, including the three Michelin starred L’Enclume and farm.

Currently stationed at the Michelin-starred Rogan&Co, Harvey loves the thrill of being in a working kitchen. He said: “When you walk in the kitchen you get an instant buzz, my favourite part is service – there’s lots of adrenaline and excitement that goes into putting together a plate and sending out an incredible dish. I started out learning the basics and then began adding layers of complexity over time.”

His experience culminates with a trip to Hong Kong, planned for this June. The 11-night Asia adventure will see Harvey join other apprentices getting experience in different kitchens and at events, with the itinerary currently being finalised.

It’s been life-changing for the teenager, who took the leap to become an apprentice when lots of his friends were going to college full-time. Instead, he re-located to Cumbria, where he rents a room and works 8-hours-a-day in the kitchen when he’s not in the classroom.

Harvey said: “I was always one of those people who had to be doing something physical, I couldn’t be in a classroom staring at a screen. The apprenticeship has given me what I wanted out of life, I’m getting paid to do my passion.”

His favourite dish so far has been L’Enclume’s Berkswell pudding. “It’s just so satisfying when it comes together. Every plate has got to be as good as your last, but it’s a pleasure when you see people enjoying it.”

Marcin Maryniak is Head of HR and Recruitment at UMBEL Restaurant Group. He’s seen the group’s cohort of apprentices blossom in their positions as they rotated around the iconic sites. The Academy programme was born following the group experiencing challenges with recruitment, with factors including Brexit and Covid-19 causing changes in the workforce in Cumbria.

He said: “The whole industry has seen staff challenges and shortages. The Academy was created as a way of nurturing brilliant talent and creating the next generation of talented chefs. We’ve been really pleased with the success so far … Harvey and his peers have joined the programme not only with a real hunger to learn, but also buy into the ethos of our restaurants and kitchens.”

Harvey thinks that such unique learning experiences should help draw young people to locate to and build a life in Cumbria. Whilst the limitations of rural public transport have been a slight adjustment for the budding chef, he’s still embracing a new chapter in the county.

He added: “I’d encourage anyone considering an apprenticeship to go for it, I’m working hard and loving every minute, and ultimately I want to stay on and work my way up the ranks here.

“It’s such an incredible part of the country to be based, I feel lucky and definitely made the right decision. To say I’m starting out my career in a place like this – both the location and the business - is really special.”

For more information about Rogan&Co visit:
To find out more about careers and the Simon Rogan Academy visit:

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