Growing restaurant company 21 Hospitality Group has teamed up with one of the North East’s leading colleges to offer a unique traineeship for aspiring chefs.

Celebrated chef and restaurateur Terry Laybourne has worked closely with Gateshead College to develop a pioneering and innovative programme to create the next generation of highly-skilled, creative chefs, helping to bridge the skills shortage in the catering and hospitality sector.

Called the Culinary Traineeship Programme, under the expert guidance and watchful eye of Terry and his professional team, trainees are exposed to all aspects of the sector and what they’ll likely face in the day-to-day role of a chef.

It’s a groundbreaking venture between Gateshead College and the hospitality sector which is keen to establish a highly bespoke and tailored approach to the development of its future workforce, while also helping bring more culinary success to the region’s restaurants.

Terry Laybourne has been in the restaurant business for more than 30 years and operates six restaurants across Newcastle: from 21, the Broad Chare and St Vincent on the Quayside to Café 21, Saltwater Fish Company, and Porterhouse all within Fenwick. He also operates a restaurant in Cumbria and last year opened another Café 21 in Fenwick, at York. With his first restaurant, 21 Queen Street, Terry brought Newcastle its first Michelin star.

Terry said: “We’ve always invested in young talent – from kitchen staff to front of house. Many of our trainees and apprentices have gone on to become head chefs and managers within the group while others have spread their wings to travel elsewhere and run their own restaurants.

“We’ve always wanted to develop something more bespoke and suitable to the demanding requirements of modern kitchens and restaurants. This is the first time we’ve had a properly tailored traineeship model specifically designed for our group but also the wider catering sector.”

Trainees develop their theoretical knowledge and skills at Gateshead College, alongside working in one of Terry’s award-winning restaurants, gaining practical, hands-on experience whilst earning a wage. Following the year long programme, trainees are guaranteed a full time permanent commis chef position and will have the work-ready skills and experience required to fulfil the duties of the job.

Deni Chambers, assistant principal at Gateshead College, said: “What we offer is not an off-the-shelf product. It is unique and carefully crafted to meet the needs of the business.

“Our focus is to work proactively with employers to determine their own specific business needs, so that we can create a bespoke talent development programme that’s fit for purpose for now and for the future.

“We’ve worked closely with 21 Hospitality Group to develop just this; a personalised traineeship which equips their future workforce with the skills and capabilities they need to succeed.

“This innovative approach is already showing early signs of long term success, with other hospitality businesses keen to adopt a similar model as a way to proactively create a pipeline of highly skilled talent for the future.

For more information about Gateshead College’s Culinary Traineeship Programme, please email

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