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Shepherd Neame Chef Apprenticeships

"It has been challenging at times, particularly due to the impact of Covid which meant that a lot of the learning had to move online, but my manager Martin Pullen has been a fantastic mentor and I have gained so much from my studies. It has also been really great to meet up with other apprentices and share our experiences. Completing the programme has really given me the skills and more importantly the confidence to progress in my career as a chef.”

Brandon Raines, apprentice chef, class of 2020 at The Ship and Trades in Chatham

Chef roles

We have more than 300 pubs, inns and hotels across the South East, and employ around 1,500 staff across our estate, along with more than 270 employees at our head office and brewery. 

We know that our committed and passionate team is vital to our success, and we are always looking for talented staff to join us.

Together with a great range of employee benefits, we also offer a range of in-house development programmes, to support and inspire you to achieve your goals. 

Shepherd Neame Chef Apprenticeships

Are you passionate about food? We want to develop new talent and create the chefs of the future, which is why we have teamed up with Umbrella Training to create our bespoke apprenticeship programme. Don’t miss this fantastic opportunity to earn as you learn the skills necessary to succeed in the exciting, fast-paced environment of the hospitality industry.

How does it work?

  • Paid apprenticeships will last between 12-14 months, consisting of:
    • 70% on the job experience 
    • 20% mentoring & coaching
    • 10% classroom, course & reading
  • Apprentices will be trained either to the level of Level 2 Production Chef or Level 3 Senior Production Chef 
  • Mentoring will be provided by a Shepherd Neame Head Chef and General Manager along with members of the Food Development Team 
  • Group support will be provided in a monthly apprentice group meeting with a personal learning and development manager, and monthly culinary clubs 
  • Additional learning support is available for those that need it 

Which programme is right for me?

Just starting out?

Level 2 Production Chef: 12 – 14 month programme

  • Who’s it for? School leavers, career changers, anyone looking to get the best start to a chef career

Already have some experience?

Level 3 Senior Production Chef: 12 – 14 month programme

  • Who’s it for? Those already at commis chef / junior sous level and wish to advance their knowledge, skills and responsibilities 

What will my programme include?

  • Training from a qualified chef lecturer in classical techniques
  • Expert-led masterclasses in a range of essential skills from butchery to pasta making
  • Learning to support the running of a section preparation of meat, fish, poultry, vegetables and sauces as part of the kitchen brigade 
  • Learning to prepare fresh ingredients ready for service to Shepherd Neame quality standards


You can apply to work at a pub near you by searching for an apprenticeship on our Jobs page [LINK]. You'll be able to enter your postcode into the search bar or browse by region, and can apply for multiple roles. 

If we do not have any current live apprentice vacancies on our website, please email your CV to Our team will give you a call to discuss the role you are interested in and when our next intake will be.


No, the cost of your training, along with any travel expenses to and from training days will be paid for by Shepherd Neame.


Our aim is to attract, retain and develop the best people, which is why we are committed to paying more than the Government standard pay rate for Apprentices. From the first day of joining our business, you will be put on a minimum 30 hour week contract, on a pay rate in line with the National Minimum wage for your age group. There may also be the opportunity for you to earn some extra cash by working overtime hours when they are available.


Benefits include:

  • Fast paced, fun and diverse working environment
  • Competitive salary
  • Paid breaks 
  • Share of tips & gratuities 
  • Opportunity to develop and grow within the company
  • Possibility to earn more with overtime hours where available 
  • Early wage withdrawal scheme (Wagestream)
  • Access to a Workplace Mental Health Platform offering proactive support for all areas of life (UNMIND)
  • Company pension plan
  • App for online rota management
  • 28 days paid holiday per year


We offer all our apprentices the opportunity to apply for a permanent role upon completion of the programme.


  • Step 1 – Apply online
  • Step 2 – Phone interview 
  • Step 3 – Assessment centre 
  • Step 4 – Final interview 

To find out more about our Apprenticeship scheme, call our recruitment team on 01795 542132, email

Discover more about our people

Our commitment to staff development and investment in training has resulted in a number of notable success stories across our teams. Read some of their stories below.

Brandon Raines, Trainee Chef

Brandon Raines, 23, from Hoo, is a Trainee Chef De Partis at The Ship and Trades in Chatham.
He joined the hotel in 2019 as an Apprentice Commis Chef and has just completed Shepherd Neame’s two-year bespoke apprenticeship programme, run in conjunction with Umbrella Training. As a result of his success on the programme, he has been promoted to Trainee Chef De Partis and shortlisted for the Umbrella Apprenticeship Awards 2021.

Brandon said: “I have worked in kitchens since I was 18, initially taking on a part-time role at a holiday park while I was studying robotics at university in Wales. After a while I decided the course wasn’t for me, but I am passionate about food and really enjoyed my catering work, so I decided to pursue a career as a chef instead. I grew up in Medway so was aware of Shepherd Neame’s great reputation as an employer, and when I saw there was an opportunity to work at such a unique venue as the Ship and Trades - and be paid to learn through their apprenticeship programme – I didn’t hesitate to apply! It has been challenging at times, particularly due to the impact of Covid which meant that a lot of the learning had to move online, but my manager Martin Pullen has been a fantastic mentor and I have gained so much from my studies. It has also been really great to meet up with other apprentices and share our experiences. Completing the programme has really given me the skills and more importantly the confidence to progress in my career as a chef.”

Brandon Raines

Martin Pullen, Head Chef

Martin Pullen

Martin Pullen, Head Chef at the Ship and Trades, is among the mentors for Shepherd Neame’s apprenticeship programme. He recently oversaw the completion of the course by Apprentice Commis Chef Brandon Raines, who has just been promoted to Trainee Chef De Partis.

Martin said: “It has been a huge privilege to be able to support Brandon through his apprenticeship programme and watch him develop in skills and confidence during the past two years. Learning on the job in this way is a fantastic introduction to the industry. Shepherd Neame’s bespoke apprenticeship programme offers chefs a unique opportunity to study and gain all the necessary skills while also reinforcing them through practical application in the kitchen at work. It’s great to see Shepherd Neame investing in developing the chefs of the future.”

Jake Wilson, Head Chef

Jake Wilson, Head Chef at The George Hotel in Cranbrook, has climbed the career ladder with Shepherd Neame. 

Jake, from Ashford, joined Shepherd Neame as a Kitchen Porter at The Vine Inn, Tenterden in 2010, and progressed rapidly through the ranks. He was appointed Sous Chef at the Flying Horse in Smarden, moving to work in the same role at The George Hotel in Cranbrook, and was appointed Head Chef in 2019.

Jake said: “It was something I had been working towards for a few years and thanks to the training offered from Shepherd Neame, along with the opportunity to build up experience at several different sites, I was able to work my way up through the ranks.”

Head Development Chef Simon Howlett said: “Jake’s evolution from kitchen porter to head chef is a perfect example of how Shepherd Neame encourages employees to progress within the company. He is a very talented chef.”

Jake Wilson

Simon Howlett

Five Minutes with…

Simon Howlett, Head development chef

Lives: Sittingbourne

Favourite Shepherd Neame beer? Whitstable Bay Black Stout


I grew up in Weymouth and started working in the industry at an early age as my parents ran a number of fast food takeaway restaurants in Dorset. After school I attended the local catering college, then at the age of 19 I moved to work as a chef de partie for Le Meridien hotel group in London. I stayed there for a couple of years before moving back to Dorset and working in a variety of hotels, pubs and restaurants, progressing to head chef. I then became a self-employed chef, undertaking contract and outdoor catering for clients around the country. After a couple of years I decided to take on a new role as area chef for Whitbread, where I remained for seven years before moving to become development chef for Fuller’s. I stayed in that role for six years before joining Shepherd Neame 10 years ago.

What attracted you to the industry?

My parents played a big role in my decision, as in addition to working for them in their restaurants, they took us travelling every summer. It opened my eyes to the cultures and cuisines of the world, and inspired my love of food.

What attracted you to join Shepherd Neame?

After six years in my previous role I was looking for a new challenge, and this job seemed perfect. Shepherd Neame were really keen to invest in their food offer, and it gave me an opportunity to start a team of my own and develop a new menu approach which was really exciting. It was also great to work for a long established family firm where you are recognised as an individual rather than just being lost in a big corporation.

What does a typical day involve?

One of the joys of the job is that no two days are the same, as we are constantly dealing with a variety of different demands and issues. In addition to managing my head office team, my responsibilities include overseeing the development of the kitchen staff across our business, including organising training workshops and helping to induct new staff. I look after menu planning, including the launch of new menus across our retail estate in spring and autumn, deal with equipment suppliers and food suppliers, and undertake site visits and checks. I still also get in the kitchen to help at key events such as new site launches or awards ceremonies. 

How has your role changed?

When I started I was the sole person looking after Shepherd Neame’s food offer. I now manage a team of two development chefs and a development manager, and four years ago we launched a mentor scheme which has provided another source of support. Five head chefs have been appointed as mentors to guide and train other chefs across our estate and help with menu development. 

How has the industry changed?

There is more of an emphasis on healthier and lighter options, including vegetarian and vegan choices. There is also more demand for information on what is on the plate, particularly the provenance of the ingredients and allergens. We have some very good local suppliers that work with us, advising on seasonality to help with menu planning and sourcing the best produce in Kent. 

What personal characteristics help you in your role?

Patience and a calm temperament, to deal with often complex and demanding situations. Empathy is also important, as I have worked in every kitchen role from pot wash to head chef, so I am aware of and have more of an understanding of everyone’s needs.

What do you enjoy about the job?

It’s not a 9am to 5pm role, I’m my own boss and manage my own time. I also find it very rewarding to watch your chefs grow in confidence and knowledge, knowing that you have helped with their development. It is also rewarding when dishes that you have created prove popular in pubs.

What is tough about the job?

Its complexity, with lots of different strands to keep track of. There can also be real peaks and troughs in your working week, for example sometimes working a 16 hour day to help get a new site open. 

What do you consider your biggest success at the company so far?

One of my highlights was when Shepherd Neame won the Best Food Offer title at the Publican Awards in 2012, a year after I started. It showed that my work and ideas were paying off. We were shortlisted for Best Food Offer again in 2016 and 2020.

Which chefs most inspire you?

Growing up, Keith Floyd encouraged me to get into the kitchen, as he was the first real TV chef I had seen and it looked like a great job. The craziness of Heston Blumenthal is always inspiring, and I also enjoyed the Two Fat Ladies. They cooked food simply, as it was supposed to be, without any concern for calories. 

What is your advice for any budding chefs?

Be prepared for hard work and long hours, but also be aware that the job is incredibly rewarding, particularly when you see someone eating your food and you receive positive feedback. There are also fantastic career prospects, as people always need chefs so you won’t ever be out of work. And as a chef, the world is your oyster – you can travel anywhere and cook.

What are your hobbies and interests outside work?

Clay pigeon shooting, golf, attending the gym and swimming. I also love to travel, and always enjoy trying the local cuisine wherever I am.


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