A 17-year-old from Lithuania has become one of the first female non-Asian curry chefs in the country, as a restaurant bids to overcome the recruitment crisis hitting the industry.
Edita Kasiulyte is mixing it in the kitchen at Saffron in Castilian Street, Northampton with a team of chefs who have been brought up with spicy food in their blood, and the apprentice is hoping to curry favour with her more experienced colleagues.
The former Weston Favell Academy student was inspired to get into the curry industry after falling in love with spicy food shortly after arriving in England four years ago.
She said: “We don’t have anything like Indian food in Lithuania and when I had my first curry, a chicken korma, I loved it and wanted to find out more about it.
“My mum has been my inspiration and I’ve always enjoyed cooking traditional Lithuanian dishes with her but now I want to get into the curry industry and find out more about Indian food.”
Edita, from Headlands, Northampton, is the latest youngster to be given an opportunity as part of Saffron’s apprenticeship scheme. The successful programme was introduced in 2012 as part of a drive to tackle the growing chefs crisis in the industry.
This week is National Apprenticeship Week and Saffron owner Naz Islam said the scheme was a valuable route into employment for young people, as well as helping restaurants recruit and train staff.
He added: “Because of strict rules on immigration there is a real skills shortage in the kitchen. We cannot get the chefs we need from Bangladesh or India so it’s crucial we fill the roles from alternative routes.
“Our apprenticeship scheme gives local youngsters the chance to get involved in the kitchen and learn a new culture of food.
“Edita is a real success story. Her friends at Weston Favell Academy came on our first apprenticeship programme and recommended it to her. She started working as a waitress and is now in the kitchen, learning from some of the best chefs around.”
The teenager is learning all aspects of life in an award-winning kitchen and revealed she is keen on visiting Bangladesh and India to discover even more about her new favourite dish.
She added: “I just love everything about curry. The flavours, the smells, the spices, it’s all new to me and it’s so interesting. I want to find out more about its history, the culture and where it all began so a trip to India would be amazing.”