A former Hartlepool College apprentice has become one of the youngest restaurant owners in the country.
Jack Hunter, the 20-year-old entrepreneur who was also an apprentice at Krimo’s restaurant on the marina, is opening Hunter’s Restaurant on Hartlepool Marina’s Navigation Point later this month.
Jack said: “I started off in desserts and cold starters, then I moved on to hot starters and it took off from there.
“Working as an apprentice taught me how to handle responsibility. I had to learn the fundamentals fast. You have to get it right and move quickly because of the high pressured environment of a fully working restaurant.
“In college you can take your time but in the workplace you get shown once and then it’s on your head. You get rewarded for working hard. In two years as an apprentice I moved from being a commis chef to sous chef level.
“To get a full qualification and to work at the same time was important to me, I was never good at the academic side of school and I just wanted to get out and work. The number of options at Hartlepool College of Further Education was incredible. They really catered for my needs. If I didn’t have the apprenticeship I wouldn’t be where I am now.”
Now that Jack has completed his apprenticeship he’s decided it’s the right time to open his own restaurant and to work for himself.
“I had a couple of jobs but I always had my own way of thinking. Even in college I had my own creative flair and vision. I always strived to get it right, my way,” he said.
“I raised my own money and I got help from my dad, a bank loan and money from other investors but the name on the lease is mine and at the end of the day it all rests on my shoulders.
“We’re doing modern British food. There are a few crowd pleasers like burgers and steaks, and we have a vegan menu too. We’re using locally sourced produce. I’ve personally been out to where we get our fish from and where we get our meat and everything has had to pass my examination.
“Everything in the restaurant has its own little story,” Jack said as he was pointing to the wood that adorns the walls, the young chef explained that the logs were chopped by his own hand, adding a personal touch to his mission of opening his own place.
“It’s always been my dream to open my own restaurant I just didn’t think it would be this early. I don’t feel like it’s real just yet. I had someone ring up and try to book for when we’re open and I couldn’t believe they wanted to eat at my place. I know there is going to be a day where it hits me but until the first dish is plated up and sent out I’ll be chilled out. “
Jack represented Hartlepool College at the World Skills Competition at University College in Birmingham. The competition brings together apprentices from across the country to compete to be the best in their chosen skills.
Jack made it to the regional heats where he was beaten by an apprentice from world class chef Michel Roux Jr.
“For the competition we had to cook two dishes in an hour. I chose a duck dish and a chocolate soufflé. I remember the duck because it was a nightmare!”
Kevin Dove, Jack’s teacher at Hartlepool College of Further Education, said: “The competition made him realise the level he wanted to work at.
“Being surrounded by those types of people and to rub shoulders with such great chefs made him realise what he was capable of.”