Studying for a Hospitality and Catering course three years ago has served Christopher Morris well, as he is now Head Chef at the up-market Fairlawns Hotel and Spa.
The driven 24-year-old began his journey at Walsall College, where his tutors arranged for his work placement to take place at the Fairlawns.
“A friend was working at the Fairlawns Hotel when I was looking for a work placement. The college sent me there for work experience, after which I became a Commis Chef for a year and a half”, he said.
Christopher moved onto the Edgbaston Boutique Hotel, where he served afternoon tea for four to five months. Looking to progress further, he then spent a year working as a Sous chef at a local pub in Shenstone, where he resides.
“My time at the pub really helped me develop to where I wanted to be. I learned to work at a faster pace.” he said.
Once he had developed the skills he needed to build up his career, Chris moved back to Fairlawns, where he now works as Head Chef. Keen to share his skills and experience, Christopher is currently training students from Walsall College.
“Walsall College work with Fairlawns and I’m currently training some of their students, showing them how I went from college to industry. Work experience is incredibly important, especially if you aspire to work as a chef. At college, you’re doing 30 hours a week…in a kitchen, you’re expected to work long hours. So work experience exposes students to the realities of the industry they want to enter.
Being able to share my experience with the college’s apprentices has been very rewarding. Not only do I teach them how to make a range of dishes, but I also explain how to positively handle the pressure of serving multiple meals per day”.
Christopher also commends Walsall College for its quality of teaching and for helping him reach his goals sooner than expected.
“I’m very target-driven. When I was at college, I wanted to be Head chef by the age of 25. The teaching and work experience at the college has helped me achieve that goal two years earlier.
I really liked the smaller class size I was in, which enabled the tutor to help each of us on a one-to-one basis if we needed help. All of the tutors have a real love of food, which taught me to appreciate how different flavours and colours come together to create distinct tastes”.
John Pette, the General Manager at Fairlawns, said: “Chris has always stood out as a hardworking, passionate, talented and organised individual who could develop into a senior role. The balance of his Walsall College education, alongside practical work experience whilst working with some great people, has given him a foundation upon which he has been able to develop his career.
Chris has been performing well in his role and we hope it inspires those starting their careers with us to see that the hospitality industry is a fun and energetic environment that gives young people the chance to build their work experience.
Employers and colleges need to work together to nurture and retain talent in our industry. We continue to be appreciative for the talent Walsall College produces and indeed have a number of current and former students working at Fairlawns.”
You can find out more about our Hospitality and Catering courses on our website at www.walsallcollege.ac.uk. For more information about enrolling on a course at Walsall College, please call 01922 657000.