TEACHING the next generation of chefs is not a job that Scott Surtees takes lightly.

The lecturer at Warrington Collegiate got into teaching at a time when Gordon Ramsay and Marcus Wareing were criticising colleges for not adequately preparing young people for the high demands of the industry.

So he returned to his training ground at Macclesfield College, where he became one of the youngest people to achieve a bronze medal at Salon Culinaire, to help aspiring chefs one day a week. Now Scott has left behind his career in the industry, including work at three Michelin starred restaurants, to help prepare Warrington Collegiate students full time.

The 37-year-old said: “I always kept in touch with my old college lecturers even when I was off around Britain working in the Michelin starred restaurants. Then in around 2007 there was a bit of a stinging criticism from Gordon Ramsay and Marcus Wareing saying that colleges weren’t preparing people for the industry.

“There was a distinct skills gap of students coming out of colleges who were prepared to work at top end restaurants. My college lecturers at the time returned fire and phoned me and said: ‘Why don’t you come and help us?’ So I did. I went into there and fell in love with the education side of it.”

At Warrington Collegiate, Scott prepares students for the industry by getting them to prepare dishes for the public at Buckley’s Restaurant. He will also be entering a college team into the Welsh International Culinary Championships later this year.

Scott, who was awarded young Cheshire Chef of the Year in 2004 and North West Chef of the Year in 2005, led a Macclesfield team to a gold medal at the event in 2014.

He added: “We’ve got some fantastic guys at Warrington Collegiate. Some of them have been with me for two and a half years and as soon as they picked up a knife you could tell they were going to make it. The enthusiasm that they bring is amazing. They’re a pleasure to teach.

“Being a chef requires the utmost organisation. It borders on the line of being obsessive compulsive. We’ve said don’t look at us as teachers, look at us as chefs and we will bring professional standards into the lessons as well. We’re not just running a college restaurant, we’re running a restaurant.

“That’s how we want to look at it as it’s open to the public and we run it just as we would any other restaurant. The students aren’t here for an easy life, they’re here to learn at a difficult profession.”

Scott knew he wanted to be a chef when he was eight.

He said: “I never wanted to be a footballer, a policeman, a fireman or anything like that – I only ever wanted to cook. Since I was old enough to stand up I was obsessed with it. I would always stand on a chair in the kitchen making cakes with my mum.

“My favourite thing to make was chocolate cake out of a Be-Ro Flour book from the 1950s that my mum Christine had.”

Scott got a prestigious Francis Coulson chef scholarship from Relais and Châteaux and got his big break working at Middlethorpe Hall Hotel in York. He has also worked at Sharrow Bay Country House Hotel in the Lake District and Alderley Edge Hotel.

But Scott said working at Hambleton Hall at Rutland Water was his favourite due to head chef Aaron Patterson’s ‘respect and passion for the food’.

“For me you start with a pile of raw ingredients and an idea,” he added.

“The idea usually comes first. It can happen at any time. You can wake up in the middle of the night with a vision in your head and you can sit there at 3am writing away about the dish you’ve dreamt of.

“All of a sudden it becomes a reality and from there it can go on the menu...”

Buckley’s is open to the public Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday lunchtimes, and Wednesday evenings. To book, call 494 378 or email buckleys@warrington.ac.uk