Sodexo this week hosted a star-studded fundraising event to celebrate 15 years of Springboard's FutureChef programme.

The event, held on the River Thames aboard Sodexo Prestige’s Bateaux London Symphony dining cruise venue, was attended by rugby star Matt Dawson and supported by top UK chefs, Alan Bird, Allan Pickett, Alyn Williams and Gareth Billington, who mentored this year’s FutureChef winner.

FutureChef, which is run by hospitality charity Springboard, is a nationwide competition for budding chefs aged between 12 and 16.  The programme has been designed to inspire young people to consider careers in hospitality, by giving them the opportunity to work directly with chefs and others industry professionals taking on real-life catering challenges. As a Springboard Business Partner, Sodexo has been a key corporate supporter of FutureChef over the last 15 years.

The event was attended by one hundred and thirty guests from across the hospitality industry. Matt Dawson, who is a Sodexo ambassador, presided over a charity auction and guests were treated to a four-course meal, with each course having been prepared by one of the host chefs working in conjunction with a past FutureChef winner. Hospitality, food and beverage students from Westminster Kingsway College worked alongside the Sodexo team to serve the guests.

Anna Carmichael won FutureChef this year, beating 8,200 12 to 16-year-old entrants from across the UK. She is currently completing work experience at Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons. Anna has been mentored by Sodexo Prestige chef, Gareth Billington, who is executive chef at Everton FC. As part of her FutureChef prize she spent time working with Gareth at Everton and she additionally completed training with the Sodexo team at Royal Ascot.

Of her experience of FutureChef and relationship with her mentor Gareth Billington she has said; “I have been told by Gareth about the industry realistically which I am grateful for. Although I’ve learnt about the long hours and hard and demanding labour, I have also been told about how rewarding and enjoyable cheffing is and it is because of Gareth that I have had all of these experiences first hand.”

Anne Pierce, chief executive of The Springboard Charity, said; “Springboard’s FutureChef is an inspirational programme that opens the door to young people to explore food, cooking and a career as a chef. Today, we have many examples of up and coming chefs who have started through FutureChef and are well on their way to becoming the stars of tomorrow. We really are shaping young people’s futures for the better. We are truly grateful to Sodexo for their generous support for this fantastic event.”

Chris John, managing director, Sodexo Prestige said; “Sodexo is a proud sponsor of FutureChef, which is one of the most influential initiatives within this industry for young people. We are honoured to have hosted this event at one of our finest Prestige Venues & Events venues. We are grateful to Matt and the chefs for making the evening so memorable. It was a great chance to come together as an industry to celebrate our future stars.”

David Mulcahy, Sodexo craft development director and FutureChef head judge, said; “It was a fantastic evening, during which we were able to celebrate the fantastic abilities of our FutureChef alumni and - of course - their very capable mentors, whilst also raising funds to help fund the programme for this year and beyond. I have personally worked on FutureChef since its inception fifteen years ago and I am passionate about and committed to its continued success.

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