Our News

11 June 2013

Cardiff and Vale College sets Leo up for an award-winning culinary career

A young chef who started upon his culinary career at Cardiff and Vale College made it to the top three of the Vocational Qualification Learner of the Year Awards.

Thanks to his vocational training, drive and ambition, Leo is now working as a chef in a top notch five star London hotel that is a regular celebrity haunt.

Leo Hacker, 18 and from Cardiff, came to CAVC to study Hospitality & Catering on a Pathways to Apprenticeship course aged just 16. While at the College he won the Welsh Futurechef of the Year 2012 competition and represented Wales in the UK-wide finals.

While at the Futurechef UK final he was spotted by one of the judges - Steve Munkley, Executive Chef at the prestigious Royal Garden Hotel in Kensington. Steve offered Leo a week’s work experience and then, at the end of the week, an apprenticeship.

Leo now works four days a week in the kitchens on the Royal Garden Hotel and spends one day studying at the renowned University of West London’s School of Hospitality & Tourism. Having just turned 18, Leo is a year younger than most of his peers.

Leo says it has been a “whirlwind” ten months for him, and praises the “amazing” support he has had from CAVC. He hopes to “fly the flag for Wales” and open a patisserie in France or a restaurant in New York.

Leo was handed his certificate by Deputy Minister for Skills and Technology Jeff Cuthbert AM at a ceremony to celebrate Vocational Qualification Day hosted by BBC Wales presenter Owain Wyn Evans.

CAVC Head of Sport, Public Service, Travel, Tourism & Hospitality Alun Ackerman said: “Leo came to the college aged 16 and achieved more in one year than many other students achieve in two or more years. As a fluent Welsh speaker and coming from a Welsh Medium background, he adapted well to the Level 2 course. He was fast tracked due to the excellent kitchen skills noticed by his mentor chef Kevin Fairlie and commendable reports from The Hilton Hotel Cardiff which was his apprenticeship placement.

“His future looks extremely bright and he’s a shining example of what can be achieved while studying a vocational course at a further education college.”

Royal Garden Hotel Executive Chef Steve Munkley said: “Leo is an absolute pleasure to work with. His commitment is exceptional and his development has been outstanding. Leo really is a credit to the Hospitality team at Cardiff and Vale College and to the apprenticeship system. I have no doubt that Leo will go far.”