WeLondon has been through a food revolution over the last few decades. But we do a poor job of developing and retaining chefs. This project is exploring how a world class culinary college, on a par with London’s great art and design schools, might work in practice.
Despite a decade of growth in food-related jobs, especially cooking, the number of chef students and apprentices is in decline. Cheffing is viewed as a low status and unattractive profession, especially for women. 85 per cent of London’s chefs were born abroad and 85 per cent are men.
In 2019 Centre for London published Kitchen Talent, a report which looked at the causes of professional culinary skills in the capital, and set out ways of attracting, developing and retaining the chefs of the city’s future. Among other recommendations, it argued that London needs a College of Food, to attract and retain students from London and beyond, into a kitchen career. The idea has been enthusiastically received by policy makers and hospitality businesses.
A new vision for culinary education
The London College of Food could be the equivalent of London’s great art schools for the culinary arts: it would grow a new generation of chefs by offering world-class education and apprenticeships in food.
We’re now looking at how a College of Food might work in practice and building a coalition to support its creation. With the Mayor of London newly in control of the Adult Education Budget, there is a window of opportunity to reshape food education.
Research scope and launch
This research project will explore questions including:
- How should the London College of Food teach knowledge about food, cooking and entrepreneurship – skills which businesses find in such short supply?
- How can we raise the prestige of culinary education, whilst ensuring the College advances social mobility?
- Does a London College of Food need to be a new institution? Should it consolidate existing colleges? Who should lead its set up?
- How much would its set up and operational costs be, and what funding model would work best?
The final report will be launched in January 2021.