Re-visit the apprentice – Emma Tait, Cecchini’s restaurant

Over the course of Scottish Apprenticeship Week 2016, as well as introducing new apprentices to our blog, we have been re-publishing a selection of interviews produced last year to showcase the talents of Ayrshire apprentices in a variety of sectors.

We will be catching up with the apprentices to see how they have progressed. Today we returned to the kitchen of Cecchini’s restaurant in Ardrossan to speak with apprentice Emma Tait.

Not only did we catch up with Emma – our Chairman Willie Mackie took on her role in the kitchen!

Willie has been trying out apprenticeships all day. First at the Ayr campus where he became an aeronautical engineering apprentice, and then at Cecchini’s where he became a chef for the afternoon.

Tomorrow we’ll be finishing our Scottish Apprenticeship Week 2016 themed blog posts with Willie talking about his time as an apprentice.

But first, here’s Emma!

Original interview published on 22 May 2015 

Emma is coming to the end of her second year as an apprentice where she has been attending college on a day release basis. She recognises the importance of college-based learning as it presents the opportunity to test her skills on dishes that are not on the menu at Cecchini’s.

Emma said “Our menu at the restaurant is big but we don’t get whole fish bought in for example. So, at college I can fillet a whole salmon and that’s a skill I can bring in here.”

She’s thrilled to be in the kitchen at the restaurant too. She said “It gives me the experience and the knowledge of working in a professional kitchen, rather than just going to college. It’s a very, very high pressure environment in the restaurant kitchen – not an easy job at all. But if you love what you do, you learn to cope and the staff here help you along the way.”

Managing Director Anthony Cecchini, who has restaurants in Ayr and Prestwick as well as the Ardrossan site that Emma predominantly works in, highly rates the apprenticeship route. He said “Obviously you’ve got to start somewhere and that’s where I started – in the kitchen. I think it’s a brilliant industry to be in and, for apprentices who come on board, the skills they learn can take them all around the world if they wish.

“It’s absolutely fantastic that Emma goes to college. I did the same years ago. It was a great basis for training to come into the workplace. To do your apprenticeship side-by-side, workplace and college, it’s tremendous.”

With Emma approaching the third year of her apprenticeship, Anthony summed up the progress she has made during her time at Cecchini’s.

“The improvement has been vast, absolutely brilliant. Emma’s very dedicated and works every weekend. She works hard and will do anything she’s asked to do which is brilliant.”

To hear more from Emma and Anthony watch the video.

Update one year on

Emma is now in her third year of the modern apprenticeship and is continuing to develop her career at Cecchini’s.

Asked, almost one year on, if she has noticed a significant progression within the kitchen Emma said “Definitely! As you spend more time in the business you learn more things.

“I’m now a Junior Sous Chef, which means I take care of orders to the restaurant and also take charge of the kitchen whenever the Head Chef and the Sous Chef are not in.

“My plan is to continue my apprenticeship, staying on with Cecchini’s and hopefully I’ll work my way up and see where it takes me.”

On Ayrshire College Chairman Willie Mackie joining her for an afternoon shift, Emma said…

“He did well, I think Cecchini’s would hire him!

“It was nice to be able to pass on what I’ve learnt to someone else. You know what somebody new to this is going through – the kitchen can be tough. But he was good!”

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