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Hospitality and professional cookery

In one of the fastest growing sectors in the world, competition can be fierce. Put yourself ahead of the pack with a qualification from one of our unique programmes, designed in conjunction with The Fat Duck Group, only available at Activate Learning colleges.

About our hospitality and professional cookery programmes

We've partnered with world-renowned, Michelin-starred chef Heston Blumenthal and his team at the Fat Duck Group to design study programmes that give you the best possible start in a demanding, fast-paced, yet hugely rewarding industry.

What sets our catering programmes apart from the rest is the emphasis we place on the fundamentals of understanding ingredients and exploring their tastes, flavours and fusions.

Heston Blumenthal has identified two critical attributes for working in this industry: Restless Perfectionism and Creative Curiousity. To find out more about how these attributes can benefit you and how we develop them throughout our catering programmes, click on the links on the right.

Inspired by these critical attributes, you will be provided with a rich variety of learning experiences, including:

  • practical exploration
  • food science experiments
  • work and industry experience
  • customer facing activity
  • employer-led projects

On top of all that, we add in other experiences and opportunities to help you get ahead in your career, including:

  • work alongside experienced chefs on live projects
  • the opportunity to compete in regional and national food competitions
  • catering for big events, including awards dinners and functions

search our hospitality and catering programmes

What is a career pathway?

Education takes time and money. By giving you a clear view of what qualifications you need to get the job and the salary that you want, we take the stress out of learning.

Our career pathway maps show you the entry requirements for each qualification and how long they take to achieve. With each new qualification, you have the option to continue studying at the next level or explore your employment options with a guide to the jobs and salaries you can expect at that stage. Each step of the way, our career advisors are there to help you make the right choice for you.

By focusing on your future employability and opportunities, we hope to inspire in you the drive to succeed and make the most of your investment in education. 95% of students that completed a course with us progressed directly into employment or onto higher-level learning such as a higher-level course, apprenticeship or university study.*
*AL destination data for 16-19 year olds

While the right qualifications can get you a job interview, it’s the attributes that we teach alongside your chosen programme that will get you the job. Click here to find out more about our Attributes and Learning Philosophy.


Our aim is to equip you to be successful in the job market,

whether you are heading for a job straight after your time at

college, plan to take a university-level programme first or are

already working in a part-time job.

What could my future job look like?

Here are some examples of roles and their associated tasks:

  • Sous chef: run a commercial kitchen, preparing food and ensuring procedures are followed by staff.
  • Chef de partie: prepare one or more types of food in a kitchen environment, working under directions from a chef.
  • Head chef: create menus for a restaurant, cafeteria or catering establishment, managing the kitchen, monitoring costs and training staff in processes needed.
  • Restaurant manager: run a restaurant, including hiring staff, schedule rotas, manage bookings and monitor budgets.

The hospitality and professional cookery industry

There is huge demand for chefs, catering managers and kitchen assistants nationally, with experienced head chefs earning £50,000 or more annually.

The hospitality industry is the fourth biggest employer in the UK, accounting for 3.2 million jobs through direct employment and a further 2.8 million indirectly.

To be successful in this industry, you'll need to be committed, resilient, understand that you won’t be working a traditional ‘nine to five’ role and have customer service at the core of everything you do.

search our hospitality and professional cookery programmes


Industry partnerships

We work in partnership with local employers, including experienced chefs who set up live projects, and large organisations. These are ideal opportunities for you to gain skills and build your confidence.