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The future of cooking is FutureChef

It’s been a record-breaking year for Springboard UK’s FutureChef programme, with over 16,200 young people taking part in the biggest cookery competition of its kind in the UK. caught up with Michael Hanton, Springboard UK’s E-Learning and Content Development Manager to find out about the growth of the competition and why more hospitality businesses should get involved.

A record-breaking year for FutureChef

We started by asking Michael about this year’s competition. “We experienced an amazing 25% increase in the number of schools taking part.  738 schools from all over the UK participated, with 16,229 young people competing to reach the final held in London in March, just before lockdown was announced.”

So how do you whittle over 16,000 competitors down to the outstanding dozen?  Michael continued, “We hosted 76 local finals followed by 12 regional finals.  The winners of the regional finals joined us at Westminster Kingsway College to compete for the title of FutureChef Winner 2020.  In a hotly contested final Jodie Cochrane (16) from Trinity High School in Glasgow carried off the trophy.”

Why FutureChef is important to the future of hospitality

Celebrity chef Brian Turner CBE, who has been involved in the competition since its inception, said: “There are two reasons why we need FutureChef. The first is that there isn’t nearly enough domestic science and food tech being taught today, so young people aren’t learning the basic skills of cooking that sustain their way of living. Secondly, it encourages people to develop their skills and enter into the industry.”

Opening up resources for online learning

Springboard was agile when lockdown was announced, opening up access to its online learning portal.   The FutureChef Digital Academy, developed with teachers, offers students videos, activities and questions that they can complete from home. Teachers can also monitor their students’ progress during the time, allowing them to set a module of work for young people to complete.

Launched on 13th May, Springboard has received access requests from nearly 180 schools on behalf of nearly 11,000 pupils. Over 600 teachers are also using the Springboard Learning Management System to access teaching resources.

What’s next for FutureChef

Michael was keen to talk about how FutureChef will develop into 2021. “A big part of our plans is to engage with more students to get them involved with cooking, and not just through the traditional competition. The 2021 programme will see a new competition structure that allows us to have ongoing contact with competitors. It will let us really inspire young people and hopefully foster a love of the industry.

Springboard has split the competition into age group-specific strands for the new year. These will be:

  • FutureChef Development Programme (Ages 11-14)
  • FutureChef Competition (14-16)
  • FutureChef Respawn (14-16)

FutureChef’s legacy

The FutureChef programme has been in existence for 20 years, and whilst the flagship is the competition, the programme does so much more behind the scenes.

  • Working with chefs and industry-professionals to inspire and encourage students to get involved and start cooking, ultimately promoting careers in hospitality at a local level.
  • Engaging with new chefs and professionals, year on year, to help train the next generation of chefs for meaningful & rewarding careers in the industry.

How the hospitality industry can support FutureChef

The sector can support FutureChef in several different ways.

  • FutureChef Champions – High-profile chefs in the public eye who can use their platform to inspire young people as well as teachers, parents and other chefs to get involved with the programme through social media
  • Competition mentors – Chefs who will mentor students through the competition stages of the programme. Each mentor will judge a local final and mentor the winner through the next stages of the competition
  • Competition judges – Experienced chefs who can judge competitions at the local, regional and final stages
  • Demo chefs – To deliver interactive demos & learning sessions in schools, demonstrating technical skills and providing careers advice & information
  • Resources chefs – Chefs who will record short clips demonstrating technical cooking skills and sharing their career backgrounds for schools to use

Get Involved

By providing support to the FutureChef programme, hospitality businesses will be helping to alleviate the skills shortage within the industry and promoting it as a successful career and a great place to work.

Additionally, your involvement will allow more young people to engage with your business and give you access to an enthusiastic talent pipeline.

For more information on the FutureChef Programme visit:

To find out more about the work Springboard UK does with hospitality, and how you can support this, visit: