Ever wondered how freshly made salads and dips arrive in your local supermarket in time for lunch? Last week a group taking part in our Fairbridge programme found out. 

Our corporate partner Bakkavor, the UK’s largest fresh food manufacturer, opened up their product development kitchen - where the newest products to hit the shelves are being created. Tesco, ASDA, Waitrose, Marks and Spencer and Pizza Express to name a few, all sell products which have been produced by Bakkavor. 

It’s a busy job working at Bakkavor, as the company runs 24/7, creating over 5,000 different product lines to the UK’s shelves.

Last week eight young people grilled (excuse the pun) Jason Elvin, Senior Development Chef, to find out what a career at Bakkavor looks like.

How did you manage to land your current job?

Whilst I was at school I always had a keen interest in cooking - it was my passion. So when I left school at 16 I trained to be a chef at college and landed a job in The Savoy! From there I worked for Marco Pierre White and I was lucky enough to travel the world. I then returned to work to head up the catering team at HSBC. Through a chance conversation I entered the world of Bakkavor and haven’t looked back since, I have been here for the past ten years - it’s a great place to work, lots of amazing people and I get to creating new products - it really is my passion!

What have been the highlights working at Bakkavor?

My favourite thing at Bakkavor is working with a lot of amazing people and I get to play with food and flavours every day!  I really enjoy creating great food for retailers and a lot of it is prepared right in this kitchen.

What keeps you motivated?

We are the leading fresh foods manufacturer so we have to be ahead of the game, which means for me it’s all about ideas. Our team want to come up with different recipes to impress our customers, be the first to market, and be the best! Working with a great group of people is incredibly motivating. 

What would you say to a young person who is looking to start out at Bakkavor?

With thousands of roles at Bakkavor across a variety of teams there is something for everyone here… there are so many different areas you can go into – the world is your oyster!

We work in partnership with The Prince’s Trust to help young people start their careers in the cooking industry - so if you're looking for a way into the sector, The Prince’s Trust's courses are a good place to start! Many people in our team here started their careers through entry level roles and worked their way up through the business. 

There are unlimited opportunities on offer. You could join our development and process team where you make our product ideas into reality, food standards, packaging, engineering… we love the home grown approach here and invest in our team offering training and development.

And finally… what three foods would you take to a desert island?

That’s a tough one as you don’t know what’s going to be on the island! I’d probably take chickens, because I love Korean fried chicken! The bones can then be used to make lovely Ramen chicken bone broths and then of course you can use the eggs. So I could make three or four meals from that. Then I’d take wheat or flour to make bread. And thirdly - coffee – I need at least a couple of coffees to get going in the morning.

Over the past three years, Bakkavor have raised over £100,000 to support young people. Bakkavor volunteers have led inspiring workshops about what a role in the industry could offer. Workshops have involved team building activities, employability skills and of course creating lots of great food! Bakkavor teams have certainly been building up their appetite with teams taking part in Palace to Palace, London to Paris and Future Steps challenges. A huge thank you to everyone at Bakkavor, across all sites from Bakkavor Pizza in Holbeach to Bakkavor Desserts in Newark, we are so grateful for your support.