‘I became a qualified chef with Fuller’s Apprenticeship Scheme’ – Louis’ story

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Louis Ashton-Herrera had no formal cooking experience before he started Fuller’s Level 2 Commis Chef Apprenticeship Programme in March 2018. One year later, he was a qualified chef.

Today, Louis is a commis chef at The Half Moon – a busy pub, restaurant and hotel in Herne Hill. We asked Louis what it was like becoming a qualified chef with Fuller’s.

Adam Sykes

Pursuing a career in cooking

With a varied working background in construction, gardening and hospitality, Louis loved to cook and decided to pursue a career as a chef – signing up to Fuller’s Chef Apprenticeship Programme. Although he had no experience as a chef before starting the programme, he said it didn’t matter.

“You start with the basics like knife skills, allergens and food safety and learn all the cooking skills you need,” Louis explained.

“The apprenticeship only took 12 months and went by really fast. It’s a 40-hour contract where you’re earning an apprentice wage, but you receive free education. It’s a really good opportunity, and it’s the best introduction to a chef career.”

Fuller’s chef apprentices learn on the job, working in one of our 200 Managed Pubs where they are partnered with one of our head chefs. They also spend one day per week learning at one of Fuller’s partner colleges or universities. 

The Half Moon, Herne Hill, kitchen

Learning at The Half Moon

Residing in South East London, Louis spent his placement for the Apprenticeship Programme at The Half Moon in Herne Hill, where he was partnered with Head Chef, Mike Blizzard.

As part of the programme, Louis spent four days per week working at the pub under the instruction of his Head Chef, and one day per week studying at the University of West London with the other apprentices.

“The head chefs that Fuller’s teams you with have so much experience and are great teachers. My head chef has a lot of experience working in Michelin Star restaurants. He has passed on so much of his knowledge to me and has been a great teacher. It has been an amazing year.”

Louis likened Fuller’s Kitchens to working in premium restaurants.

“The quality of food and the overall standards really impressed me when I started. Fuller’s is conscious of where the food comes from, the quality, and the presentation. It’s not your average pub food. We serve some traditional English grub like Sunday roasts, but a lot of more adventurous world food.”

Becoming a qualified chef with Fuller's Apprenticeship Programme

The power of preparation

Before starting his apprenticeship, Louis was working part time in a cocktail bar. Used to working late nights, he said adjusting his sleeping habits to accommodate early mornings was among the challenges he faced during his apprenticeship. 

“Waking up at 6am to get to West London for the training day was a challenge because I wasn’t a morning person. But I adapted so I eventually became one.

“What I’ve learnt is that being a chef is all about preparation. You need to be quick and efficient, and work at 100% all the time. You will make a lot of mistakes, but it’s important to not let them get you down and to learn from them. You learn to stay calm and collected and to figure out how to cater to unexpected situations when they arise.”

The Half Moon, Herne Hill, restaurant

Learning transferable skills

He said Fuller’s Chef Apprenticeship Programme has taught him skills that have benefited his life outside of the kitchen, too.

“I like how learning to be a chef has improved my life skills. Planning, multi-tasking, organisation and time management are essential skills for a chef, and they’re transferrable to everyday life. Becoming a chef improves how your mind works.”

While completing Fuller’s Chef Apprenticeship wasn’t easy, Louis said was one of the best decisions he’s made.

“The Fuller’s Chef Apprenticeship Programme can change people’s lives. It allows you to take up a new career from scratch without having to pay for your education.

“People of all ages are doing it – my programme had people aged from 16 to 35, so don’t be put off by age or experience. Even if you’re already a cook, it’s good to be qualified.”
Louis encourages anyone considering a chef career to register for Fuller’s Chef Apprenticeship Programme.

“The apprenticeship covers everything. It’s a well-rounded programme and it’s really supportive. Fuller’s Kitchen is about making sure there’s a dish for everyone on the menu, so it’s a broad spectrum that covers all the skills and knowledge you need to be a chef.

"I think everyone working in a kitchen should have those skills. Fuller’s is perfect for doing an apprenticeship with and I recommend it. Just be prepared to work hard!”

“The Fuller’s Chef Apprenticeship Programme can change people’s lives. It allows you to take up a new career from scratch without having to pay for your education," - Louis Ashton-Herrera, Commis Chef at The Half Moon.

Become a qualified Chef with Fuller’s

The Fuller’s Level 2 Commis Chef Apprenticeship Programme is designed for anyone looking to have the best start to a chef career, by providing all the skills and knowledge required to become a qualified chef.

Apprentices study one day per week at one of Fuller’s partner colleges or universities, and work for four days per week at one of our selected managed pubs, where they are mentored by one of our head chefs.

We have two intakes for apprenticeships each year – in March and September – but we recruit all year round in our pubs, so you can join us at any time and go onto the next available programme.

Find out more about Fuller’s Chef Apprenticeship Programmes: Chef Apprenticeships.

Supporting Hospitality Apprenticeship Week

Our apprenticeship programme was launched in 2015 and has gone from strength to strength. We have 90 apprentices currently on the programme and are committed to growing that to 200.

That’s why Fuller’s are proud to support the first Hospitality Apprenticeship Week (5-9 August 2019). We are participating by providing an insight into life as an apprentice with Fuller’s through the stories of those taking our programme – showing the positive impacts apprenticeships can make in people’s lives and careers.

Follow Fuller's Careers on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to see more.

Browse Fuller’s jobs

Do you want an exciting career in hospitality? Browse available jobs in Fuller’s pubs – from kitchen porter and chef roles to front of house positions.

Browse Pub & Hotel Jobs.

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