A partnership between Stoke-on-Trent College and Parogon Group is assisting the company’s ongoing expansion plans, with three new trainee chefs being the first to get on the career ladder following the successful launch of a work experience scheme.
Parogon currently employs around 350 people at popular Staffordshire venues The Wayfarer in Stone, The Orange Tree in Trent Vale, The Swan with Two Necks at Blackbrook, The Seven Stars at Brocton and The Block House in Baldwins Gate, as well as The Boar’s Head in Walgherton, near Nantwich.
Last year, the group announced expansion plans to grow from 350 to 500 staff in 2019 and increase in size by 35%, with the launch of more restaurants in Shropshire and Balterley.
As part of this growth strategy, Parogon has partnered with Stoke-on-Trent College to offer a 12-week work experience programme in order to attract and train the best young talent to become part of their kitchen teams.
The first successful phase has led to three of the college’s level 2 food preparation students securing part-time jobs as trainee chefs with Parogon, which they will carry out alongside their studies.
Jack Wall, 17, from Blythe Bridge, has started a new part-time job as a Commis Chef at Parogon’s Stone venue, The Wayfarer.
Wiktor Pocalun, 18, from Bentilee, and Kyle Johnson-Cooper, 17, from Madeley have both been offered part-time Commis Chef roles at The Orange Tree in Trent Vale.
Katy Chesters, Business Development Associate at Stoke-on-Trent College, comments: “Parogon Group is one of the fastest growing employers in the hospitality sector in Staffordshire, with an outstanding reputation for high quality food and service.
“We are proud to work in partnership with Ben and his team to provide this work experience programme for our catering students, and even prouder that this led directly to commis chef roles at The Wayfarer and The Orange Tree for Jack, Wiktor and Kyle. These are fantastic opportunities which will get their careers off to a great start, combining their new part-time jobs with their catering qualifications at the college.”
She adds: “The Parogon Group is known for high standards. The right team is critically important to the success of the business and that’s why this new partnership helps them attract and retain the next generation of chefs that will be key to their ongoing growth.”
Ben Allison, Operations Support Manager at Parogon Group said: “Our teams put a lot of hard work and dedication into making our business a success and we are able to maintain this by recruiting the right individuals.
“The work placement scheme with Stoke-on-Trent College is a valuable opportunity to provide potential recruits with some insight into the life of a professional chef, the high standards we expect and how it feels to be part of our team.”
He adds: “We are always looking for the right personalities, so small things such as displaying their passion for food with a smile when describing favourite meals and ingredients, led me to offer the new roles to Kyle, Jack and Wiktor.”
For the students, it’s been a very positive experience. Wiktor comments: “I was made to feel very welcome by the staff at The Orange Tree and I really feel part of the family. I have loved cooking new dishes and trying new foods, and I have even cooked some of the dishes at home for my family.”
Jack says: “My confidence in cooking has grown and I’d recommend this work experience programme to other students. I have enjoyed working in such a busy and fast paced restaurant.
Kyle concludes: “My knowledge of ingredients and cooking methods has expanded, and I really enjoy working at The Orange Tree. It’s been great to take this knowledge back to college and share with classmates.”