Meet Jack Ball: Apprentice Chef at The Blacksmith’s Loft Restaurant and future star in the hospitality world’s firmament! Jack’s been in the business since the tender age of 13, when he embarked on work experience in the kitchens of a local restaurant – and found himself hooked.

It was during this placement that he first met Andy Ellis, Head Chef at The Blacksmith’s Loft, and now Jack’s boss and mentor. ‘Andy and my oldest brother, John, who’s also a chef, first taught me how to cook,’ says Jack. ‘They’re both brilliant at what they do and their passion for food inspired me to train as a chef myself.’

But with two years to go before he could leave school, Jack couldn’t enrol at catering college just yet. Instead, he took a part-time job working with Andy at the Hudson Bay & Bar Restaurant in Alfreton, where he soaked up as much as he could about ingredients, recipes and techniques. Aged 16 and still bursting with enthusiasm for cheffing, Jack finally won his place at catering college in Buxton where he passed his course with distinction.

Keener to learn than ever, Jack followed his brother down to Cornwall, where he was now Head Chef of a 5-star hotel. Progressing rapidly, Jack worked his way up from trainee Pastry Chef to taking charge of his own meat section of the Mains pass in just 18 months. After that, he returned to Derby to head up the kitchen of a well-known steak house.

Here, Jack gained a valuable insight into other aspects of the catering business as he learned how to manage a kitchen and help create new menus. Most importantly, he learned to truly appreciate the satisfaction that high quality cooking brings to diners.

Now he’s working alongside Andy at The Blacksmith’s Loft, Jack has lost none of his willingness to learn new techniques and explore novel flavour combinations. ‘I love working with food more than ever,’ he enthuses. ‘The quality of the ingredients I’m working with, the new dishes I’m designing…everything. As a chef, you never stop learning. My aim is to work as hard as I can, achieve my potential and strive to be the very best in my field.’

Here at The Blacksmith’s Loft, we firmly believe that Jack’s talents and work ethic make him one to watch for the future – good luck, Jack!