Caleb Jones is living proof that with the right attitude, the right opportunities and the right training, you can get ahead faster than you might think. Caleb is carving out a cool career as an apprentice chef at The Fig Tree Café in Upper Hutt and he only left school five months ago.
What’s his secret recipe? For as long as he can remember 17 year-old Caleb has had a passion for cookery. He had always enjoyed cooking and baking with his grandmother but he never imagined it could be a career.
He’s delighted with how things have panned out by using ServiceIQ’s classroom-to-career training programmes.
Caleb picked up ServiceIQ’s Cookery in Schools courses in Year 12, his final year at St Patrick’s College in Silverstream. Around the same time, he signed on the dotted line for a ServiceIQ Gateway Hospitality programme. This gave him a real slice of the action with hands-on experience one day a week at The Fig Tree learning how to make pies, sandwiches, cakes, lasagne and other café essentials. He also nailed the weekend kitchenhand job, and when the school year finished, his manager at The Fig Tree offered him a full-time gig plus a coveted ServiceIQ Chef Apprenticeship.
Now he’s really on his way.
“I was pretty stoked!” says Caleb. “My Dad wasn’t too thrilled because he wanted me to stay at school to get NCEA Level 3, but a meeting with my school teachers put his mind at rest. He realised that not only would I gain Level 3 and my professional chef Level 4 qualification by completing the apprenticeship, I would also be able to earn and learn at the same time,” he says.
While his chef skills are developing fast, Caleb says he’s also pretty stoked with the way his cash is piling up.
“I’ve been splitting my weekly pay and putting at least half into a savings account that I can’t touch. I’ve also got a KiwiSaver plan that’s already got quite a bit in it which is great.”
Back to the job. He’s been working and training for just four months and already he’s had a promotion. When the head chef recently left The Fig Tree for another job, he needed to step up and cook the breakfast meals. It’s another great opportunity and his dishes are proving a hit with customers.
When it comes to cooking eggs, Caleb has put a lot of effort into cracking it.
“My first module on the apprenticeship was learning how to cook egg dishes properly. I practiced a lot at home making omelettes, scrambled eggs, poached eggs, eggs Benedict and French toast. It’s all about taking your time and putting your heart into it.
The ServiceIQ apprenticeship takes up to three years on-job to complete. Caleb receives all his work books and reference material from ServiceIQ, and throughout the programme, he’ll get guidance and support from ServiceIQ Sector Advisor Chris Treacher, a highly experienced chef who works with many young apprentices training hard on-job to become first class qualified professionals.
“It’s really helpful to have someone outside The Fig Tree to turn to for help if need be. For people with a passion for cooking, I’d recommend this apprenticeship because you can do all your learning and earning on the job and you won’t need a student loan. You get all those professional skills, knowledge, experience and savings. I’d recommend it over anything,” says Caleb.
As an aside, the only other career he thought about was becoming an architect. As it turns out, design also plays a very important part in his job because he needs to create attractive-looking dishes.
“I’ve learned the first bite people take of their food is with their eyes so I really want to make it look superb.”
So where to next for Caleb? Once he qualifies, he hopes to have saved up enough money to go to Italy and learn how to cook his favourites.
“I love it all – pastas, pizzas, sauces, anything Italian!”
For more information, please contact ServiceIQ on 0800 863 693 or email intel@ServiceIQ.org.nz