Apprentice saved by cowshed

23rd October 2017

When a Cookery Apprentice from Stratford-upon-Avon College found his training in jeopardy, The Cowshed Eaterie and Tea Rooms in Henley-in-Arden saved the day by offering a last-minute apprenticeship placement.

Conor Barron, 22 from Kenilworth, was six months into his Advanced Apprenticeship in Professional Cookery at Aubrey Allen Caterers when, in August 2017, he was made redundant with the closure of their events catering branch. But thanks to the efforts of the College’s quick-thinking Work Based Learning Team, and the Cowshed’s commitment to the apprenticeship programme, Conor was able to continue his training, amazingly starting work at the restaurant the very next day.

Conor explained: “I had an informal interview with the owner of The Cowshed – more of a chat than anything. I had a trial shift on what was one of the busiest days we’ve had since I started here; it was a real baptism of fire. I really enjoyed it though.”

Catering Apprenticeships Stratford-upon-Avon College
Professional Cookery Apprentice Conor Barron with The Cowshed Restaurant Manager Julia Jones

Conor certainly impressed with his confidence, knowledge and experience. “We asked him to do a trial shift,” restaurant manager Julia Jones said. “It was clear that he fully understood the workings of a professional kitchen.” And he continues to impress with his ability to learn quickly; Julia went on: “He picked up our menu very quickly. When you tell something to Conor, he remembers it. Within days he was working with us as a team member who could have been with us for months.

“So many young people go straight to university without even thinking about the option of trying an apprenticeship scheme. And so many businesses don’t fully understand exactly how the apprenticeship scheme works and how beneficial it could be for them and their business.”

Conor is now a valued member of The Cowshed staff and already has a lot of input into the specials they serve: “I like to come up with new ideas for the menu.” He finds the College’s support throughout his apprenticeship invaluable.

What of Conor’s plans for the future? “In the short term, I’d love to stay on here at The Cowshed and continue learning, before working my way up to sous chef level. Within ten years, it’s my ambition to run my own restaurant.”

Find out more about the College’s apprenticeships: Apprenticeships