Award winning Welsh chef now working with Heston Blumenthal

Nick Rudge who is working for Heston Blumenthal.

Award winning Welsh chef Nick Rudge, who is making quite a name for himself at the internationally-renowned Fat Duck restaurant in Bray, is a finalist in this year’s Vocational Qualification (VQ) Awards for Wales.

He secured a job at Heston Blumenthal’s three Michelin-starred restaurant in 2014, immediately after leaving Grŵp Llandrillo Menai’s Coleg Llandrillo, following a successful work placement.

His training has served him well, as he has already been promoted from commis chef to chef de partie at The Fat Duck. More recently he was part of the team that opened a pop-up Fat Duck in Melbourne, Australia.

Nick, 22, is one of 10 finalists competing for VQ awards, which celebrate the achievements of both learners and employers across Wales. The winners will be revealed at an awards ceremony to be held at St David’s Hotel and Spa, Cardiff on June 7, the day before VQ Day.

The awards are organised by the Welsh Government, the National Training Federation for Wales (NTfW) and ColegauCymru / CollegesWales.

Nick is one of four finalists in the VQ Intermediate Learner of the Year Award category, which recognises individuals who clearly demonstrate progression and excellence in vocational studies and have made considerable achievements in their field thanks to vocational qualifications.

At college not only did Nick achieve a VRQ3 in Professional Cookery, he also won the college’s Norman Russell Award for culinary arts., was Student of the Year, competed at the Welsh International Culinary Championships and Skills Competition Wales and took part in study visits to Italy and Romania.

“It’s a dream come true to be working for Heston Blumenthal and it all happened so quickly,” said Nick, whose parents live in Llandudno. “I started work straight after finishing college and was lucky enough to be part of the team that opened the pop-up Fat Duck in Australia. We were out there for eight months.

“The vocational qualifications that I achieved at Coleg Llandrillo have helped massively and the tutors there were a big inspiration. Before I went to college, I didn’t know what I wanted to do but I enjoyed cooking. Both my grandfathers were chefs, so it must be in the genes.”

Nick’s ambition is to own his own restaurant in Wales. “We have such amazing ingredients, food and scenery in Wales and it was where I grew up,” he added.

His tutor at Coleg Llandrillo, Brian Hansen, said: “Nick clearly displays the skills required for excellence in the hospitality industry and is an outstanding role model.”

Julie James, Minister for Skills and Science, said: “High quality vocational qualifications are essential to provide individuals and businesses with the skills, experience, motivation and inspiration they need to get ahead.

“Many of our VQ Awards finalists this year are demonstrating that they are marked out as future leaders or ambitious entrepreneurs and have an eye on making sound business decisions and increasing productivity.

“Through their ambition to better their own careers and businesses, these finalists are helping build a stronger society and healthier economy for Wales.”

Now in their ninth year, the awards coincide with VQ Day on June 8, a celebration of the benefits and value of high quality technical, practical and vocational learning to individuals and to the economy. There are also awards for VQ Higher Learner of the Year and VQ Employer of the Year

Learning providers across Wales are being encouraged to organise regional events to celebrate VQ Day and engage with learners of all ages. Vocational qualifications have never been more important to the economy and the individual, as they deliver the trained, talented employees that businesses are crying out for and ensure young people have the skills needed to succeed in education and work.  For more information about the awards please visit