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The Alchemist Visits Sharples

By 19 January 2023No Comments

This week we were very lucky to have a guest visit from The Alchemist Manchester. We had Seamus O Donnell (Culinary Director), Hannah Plumb (Talent and Culture Director), Isabelle Rigor (Junior sous, Spinningfields – Former Apprentice) and Julian Rigor (Head chef, Spinningfields). They spoke to Year 9, 10 and 11 about their careers in the Hospitality industry and where they began their journey. Hannah told us about how she started as a waitress 20 years ago and now she is Talent and Culture Director. Seamus told us all about his first experience cooking a soup and it being so thick, it could be held over his head and wouldn’t fall out!

The pupils all left a Student’s Review, spoke about how they enjoyed hearing about their journey and how they began their careers. It allowed pupils in the school to have first hand careers advice from professionals who work in the industry.

As part of the talk we were introduced to The Alchemist brand, they showed us their promotional community video, where we heard staff members tell us about the love they have for their job. They spoke of how working in the industry gave them the ability to express themselves through Food and Drink. This was clearly something that the pupils had not considered when they thought about working in the industry. Imagining a job where they could work as part of a team, love their job and do something they enjoy everyday.

The Alchemists followed up by telling us all about the Apprenticeship scheme that they run. They offer a Level 2 apprenticeship, where you can start with basic skills and work your way up. On the apprenticeship you learn about food safety, sourcing, seasonality, meats, poultry and fish. All information which helps the apprentices understand how to source, prepare, cook safely and hygienically and methods that can be used. The Alchemist are passionate about providing learning opportunities for the future generation and this is why this event was such an amazing opportunity for the pupils. Seamus said:

“Apart from giving them an exciting job, with magical recipes, smoke and fireworks, The Alchemist also actively tries to cater to the needs of a new generation of food service workers.”

Year 9 had lots of really good questions for the team. For example, one pupil asked: “What’s the most difficult recipe you have cooked?”

Another pupil asked about pay and hours that Chefs work when working in a restaurant setting. 

The day was enjoyed by all pupils and all our pupils demonstrated excellent behaviour throughout the talks. The Student’s Reviews gave us some insight into opinions of the day.

Tyler (Year 9) spoke about ‘how he enjoyed learning about how becoming an apprentice could lead to a career as a chef.’

Josh (Year 9) wrote ‘I feel more likely to go into hospitality now as it is not all about cooking, there are also management jobs in this industry.’

Ayesha (Year 10) wrote ‘ It taught me about the different roles in the industry.’

All the feedback we gained from the event was positive and several pupils came back to tell us how much they enjoyed the talk and how it had helped them to understand the industry more.

The Grand Finale included experiencing a food demonstration, Julian and Isabelle demonstrated how to cook a Katsu Curry and demonstrated higher level skills, even chopping an onion without looking!! Clearly he has years of experience of practising this talent. The pupils got to sample this dish and we even had one pupil recreate this dish after the session had finished. Seamus said:

“I was delighted to have the opportunity to be invited by Sharples School to speak to the students about entering a career in hospitality. The Alchemist is an Innovative Cocktail Bar & Restaurant with 21 locations in the UK and is soon to open in Berlin in April. Established in 2010, The Alchemist is known for theatre served through its mystical concoctions and unconventional dishes created to tantalise the senses.

The hospitality industry is a fun environment with flexible working hours and gives you the perfect opportunity to not only have a career but a passport to travel the world to gain valuable life experience. Knowledge is King and Education is the best way to facilitate change.”