Goodbye to Cohort 3!
This is going to be a long blog and hope you can stick with it until the end.
Wow! What a day yesterday was. I got to the restaurant around 8am and there were lots of people buzzing around. Some of the graduates were being interviewed by the local media and the chefs were busy prepping for lunch whilst the front of house team set up tables and helped to take things down to the marquee. Jamie was due just after 10am and already the excitement was building.
Down in the marquee, the carpet was laid and the stage guys were busy putting up the set and sorting out the techie stuff. To be honest, looking at it at 9am in the morning, I was a bit worried that it wouldn’t be ready in time but I needn’t have, because it all came together and looked brilliant! I had about 8 people helping to pack goodie bags, mainly restaurant staff and cohort 4 trainees, and Restaurant Manager Becky was managing a small team to get the bar area sorted.
With the goodie bags well underway, I went back up to the restaurant to grab a quick coffee and pastry. The place was a hive of activity. At around 10am the graduates gathered around the reception area waiting for Jamie to arrive and when he walked into the restaurant (followed by his mentor Gennaro), everybody gave a big cheer. He met all of the graduates, chatted to the staff and then met the new cohort of apprentices. He then had some exclusive time with the graduates over breakfast, talking to them about life in the restaurant industry before a media conference with local press. It was then down onto the beach for a photo shoot. We couldn’t have wished for a better day weather-wise.
Following the photo shoot and radio and TV interviews, Jamie returned back to the restaurant where people were arriving for lunch including his good mate Justin Lee Collins. They had a quick catch up before he got his chef whites on and started work in the kitchen. It was a busy lunch with over 100 diners and before the first course came out Dave Meneer and Jamie each did a little speech about the day.
The ceremony started at 3pm in the marquee and the with such a tight guest list the queue to get in seemed to grow and grow as everyone had to be checked off. Meanwhile, I was running around backstage checking with the AV guys that the films were all in order and sorting out the graduates dog tags and awards for Jamie to present. Dave opened the show on time, which was followed by a short speech from Henry (Chair of Trustees) and Jamie. Dave then introduced each graduate’s film individually, and each walked up to the stage to collect their dog tags and say a few words. It was very emotional!
The actual ceremony all seemed over too quick which is usually the case with events that take ages to plan. Jamie then had photos done with the graduates and their families on the beach before heading back to the airport for his flight back to London. A flying visit but we were grateful to see him – especially the graduates and new apprentices.
After he departed, people continued to celebrate in the marquee and on the beach for a while, but for myself and everyone else who was working, there was a lot of clearing up to do before the marquee boys came in to take the tent down!
So, before I leave this blog, I know I speak for everyone here when I say that we’d like to wish Arron Edwards, Andrew Danks, Colin Hague, Jacob Basher, Jake Joynes, Kieran Leveret, Lee Murray and Natalie Dale all the very best in their future lives as chefs!