Council cafe to court classic cuisine

When you think of successful food partnerships you might think of The Hairy Bikers, The Two Fat Ladies or even Ben and Jerry! But now a new duo can be added to that culinary list, Thurrock Council and South Essex College.

The pair have joined forces to deliver a mouth-watering new cafe in the Thurrock Council offices, called Incafé, which will offer council staff and visitors a tasty menu – at no cost to the Council – whilst providing new Apprenticeship training opportunities and hospitality and catering jobs.

Councillor Diana Hale, Cabinet Member for Education for Thurrock Council said: “This is a great initiative that allows us to provide our young people with the opportunities to achieve their qualifications and gain new skills at the same time.”

This unique setup, the first of its kind by the two employers, has seen a refit of the kitchens to ensure they are up to standard for welcoming staff that will be able to now access a tasty snack, breakfast and lunch menu.

Spearheading the project is former Sous Chef at The Dorchester, Ronnie Wyatt-Goodwin, who is Head of Catering Operations and Development at South Essex College. He said: “With this project we are delivering on the government’s agenda for public sector organisations to work smarter together to improve efficiencies and opportunities to the benefit of all.

“We are confident this will serve as a blueprint for further joint ventures between the College and other organisation and employers across South Essex as we continue to expand our already extensive range of Apprenticeship and training opportunities.”

Also helping make the new Incafé a hit with Council workers will be three new catering apprentices, who will all be available for interview about the exciting opportunities this venture is giving them and why they are part of a growing group of young people who have chosen to do an apprenticeship in general.

Ronnie added: “After 18 months with us the apprentices will get a reference that is job related. They will have been working on a real site, giving real food to real people and getting practical hands on experience and training that also brings with it a wage.”

By 2012 the College is aiming for an impressive 20% of its catering staff to be apprentices, working across its existing staff and student canteens as well as new additions, just like Incafé, with other public and private sector organisations. It is hoped then that this new partnership will offer just a taste of what is possible when it comes to Apprenticeships and successful partnership working.

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