Cookery Courses News

Greene King launches on-line courses for hospitality

Having worked behind many a pub bar in my time, or ‘front of house’ as the title goes these days instead of barman, as much as the social aspect of the job was second to none (and the free beer came in very handy on darts night, too) it has always been one of those jobs that learning to pull a pint was about as far as any tuition got.  And the pay was nothing to write home about, either, when you consider the unsociable hours front of house staff – and kitchen staff, nowadays – put in. If that doesn’t contradict the opening line.

This is obviously an area Greene King have recognised by launching their own eight module e-learning course, available for their staff, licensed managers and tenants. Although these courses are not free (show me a cookery course that is, with everyone wanting to learn to cook at home, these days) they are very reasonably priced at £15 a pop.

Are Greene King missing a trick?

Speaking about the e-learning courses launch, which covers everything from food safety level 2 to bar management, Simon Longbottom, MD for Greene King Pub Partners, although recognising the fact that all levels of staff working within their corporation will benefit from the online wet and dry sale tutelage, which encompasses drink, management, customer service and kitchen courses taught to nationally recognised qualification levels, it would seem that the medium of online training has been aimed at developing 17-30 year olds, who have grown up interactively learning in this manner.

What I can’t help feel, and have commented as such on the eatoutmagazine guide from whence the original article came to notice, is that Greene King has an opportunity to open up its doors to the hospitality sector as a whole; as the only entry to their food and drink courses are through their private portal,, they are not availing themselves of the latent talent that exists within the pub and hotel retail sector generally.

One of the problems pubs have traditionally had, as well as the pressure of actually keeping their businesses afloat with the ridiculous taxation levels on wet-sale product, is staff retention.

I recall (just about) when I first officially worked behind a bar back in the summer of ’88, even your tax code changed so that you were paying duty on your tips, whether you were allowed to keep them or not.  That’s just one example of why staff see bar work as a part-time gig, but there are many, many others.

Food and drink courses could be so much more

Greene King have the chance to attract staff who genuinely want to progress in the hospitality industry, not just earn a few extra quid a week for a bit of pocket money, as the majority of barstaff front of house staff do. In order to do that, it should consider opening up its doors to willing third parties, even if it does charge a little extra for this additional service.

Not only will the food and drink courses be a development tool for its own staff but also provide a catchment net for the whole industry to serve as a vehicle to really put them ahead of the rest of the field. As an employer, they could not only reward staff as they go through the list of e-courses but also give staff an incentive to remain under their employ, making Greene King’s outgoings work doubly hard. This will also attract the cream of the crop from other industry sectors, turning this project into a true masterclass, rather than modules that staff might opt to take if they can be bothered or afford it.

That’s it – glad I got that off my chest. Thank you for listening.

p.s. – if Greene King do adopt this and want to thank me for pointing out, they can send me my commission cheque via the web-master here at, thank you.

Cookery Class News

Masterclass in cooking apprenticeship

Learning to cook, in a way that will endorse recognition of your skill, is not easy. Even the very best acknowledge the work involved, from day one, to achieve greatness in the kitchen.

Marco Pierre White recently visited Greene King brewery to relate tales of his initial struggle for success, going from cleaning shoes, borrowing 50p bus fare from his father, a chef himself, to begin his illustrious career at the best restaurant in London. For the nine apprentices involved in the Greene King cookery course, this was a master class of the highest order.

Let your passion drive you

If you start to let questions like ‘what will my wages be?’ or ‘what are the hours?’ stand in your way, your probably not going to make it.
True greatness comes from focus of the job in hand, letting that be your only concern. That’s difficult to get your head around with the way the economy is stacked against that philosophy, but dedication will out. Sacrifices are called for every step of the way on the ladder to mastering the kitchen.

Class on your doorstep

When you’re first starting out, the road ahead seems long and tortuous – whatever aspects you can tick off your ‘to do’ sheet in the early stages is crucial to success.
Two of the key elements to establish this positive outlook are find the right establishment, and make it local:

    1. if the restaurant you’re working for is renowned, they will only employ top chefs in order to uphold their reputation, so you will be learning to cook from the best.
    2. having the establishment on your doorstep allows flexibility, not necessarily having to rely on transport (cutting your outgoings) and being able to get there in a flash if needed.

Forget the past – this is a new dawn

Hands-on experience is great, but you also need qualifications if you aspire to making it on your own, one day.
Once you’ve positioned yourself as best you can, see if the employer will allow you to go on day release to college, or has tailored cookery courses of their own which they’ll actively encourage you to attend.
This is where it goes back to your flexibility and willingness – if you show them talent and determination, they will do what they can to ensure you realise your potential as an investment in their business.

Get instant gratification and feedback

Great cooking is one of the few jobs where you can be judged there and then. If you’ve prepared a wonderful meal, your critics will let you know by what’s left on the plate.
Feedback is as important as any inherited skill – it not only can build your confidence, but also provides pointers as to where your own strengths lie in the cooking industry.

It’s all give and take

Cooks develop over time, picking up different styles from the variety of chefs for whom they’ll work.

Once you’re established, it will be your turn to become the Yoda to your own Jedis. Use your force to pass down what you have learnt on the way to success.

Cooking is very much a two way street and definitely a 9-5 career. Food is a marvellous tool to allow you to be creative and instantly impress your employers and your clients, alike.

With hard work, flexibility and an inner determination to succeed, ignoring the naysayers but accepting constructive criticism as it comes, you will succeed and be able to provide a masterclass of your own.