Former Stratford-upon-Avon College Apprentice, Michael Wilkinson, is due to start a new role as Demi Chef de Partie at Rouge Tomate, a restaurant situated on the prestigious Avenue Louise in Brussels.
Michael, from Shipston-on-Stour, impressed his tutors on his Chef de Partie apprenticeship at College and was rewarded with the Apprentice of the Year Award at the College’s annual Student Award’s Ceremony.
Since then, Michael has gone on to secure a job at Rouge Tomate in Brussels, run by American chef Alex Joseph. Reflecting on his decision to make the big move to Brussels, Michael commented: “I’ve always wanted to work in different countries, experiencing other food cultures, and Brussels has the advantage of offering a wide range of food cultures at high standards, making it a great place to start.”
Explaining what motivated him, he continued: “Having worked at the Churchill for nearly three years, completing my training and learning various aspects of the kitchen operation, I felt it was time to move on and work in a new environment.”
Michael, who is no stranger to Brussels with family located in the Belgian capital, was originally set to start his new role sooner than 2021 but due to restaurant closures as a result of COVID-19, the job was postponed. This, however, did not deter the inspirational Apprentice from continuing to keep busy.
Deciding to use his catering skills to support his local community during the pandemic, Michael has been volunteering at his local community kitchen, working with the Salvation Army and on refugee projects. “This is something I’ve always wanted to do, the unexpected time off has given me the opportunity to get involved,” he explained, “And with the closure of restaurants in Belgium now extended until 15 January, this project has been a great way for me to keep myself active and practise my cooking skills in a very relaxed and friendly atmosphere.”
Michael will be working with the community kitchen to bring a sit-down meal for homeless people on Christmas Eve as well as distributing 150 food parcels to refugees during Christmas week.
Looking forward to his new life in Brussels, there is no doubt the hard-working and enthusiastic Chef will make his mark there as he has done here.