Cordon bleu chef Richard Holden finished top of his class at the Tante Marie Culinary Academy in Surrey three years ago and immediately went to work for one of the capital’s top catering companies for the London 2012 Olympics.
Having spent three years working as an in-house chef at a leading barbecue manufacturer developing recipes, assisting on photo shoots, formulating cookery courses and creating live cooking demonstration menus, he felt ready to set up on his own.
After leaving the company following a restructure and thanks to the New Enterprise Allowance, managed locally by the North and Western Lancashire Chamber of Commerce, the 34-year-old from Withnell, near Chorley, has launched his own business.
Richard Holden BBQ is a cookery school specialising in barbecue cooking and will focus, for the first year at least, on supporting known barbecue retailers through in-store cooking demonstrations and hands-on masterclasses.
The business will be mobile and travel across the UK and Ireland as demand necessitates.
Mr Holden said: “I have spent the last three years working with the leading barbecue company in the UK as a barbecue demonstration chef and instructor.
“The skills I have developed for live demonstration and teaching, as well as the barbecues themselves, mean I can confidently educate trade partners and the general public on all aspects of barbecue cooking.
“I feel the experience, skills and contacts I have gained during the course of four years provide me with a solid base from which to start my business and realise my long-held ambition to run my own successful business.
“This is something I have always wanted to do and I am very grateful to the Chamber of Commerce and the NEA for helping me achieve this goal.
“Should the business develop in line with my expectations I will need to hire additional staff within six to eight months to deliver courses on my behalf.”
The Chamber has held the contract to run the Government’s New Enterprise Allowance (NEA) since its launch in 2011, and through it, almost 1,000 businesses have got off the ground.
The NEA provides a weekly allowance for 26 weeks amounting to £1,274 to the new business, as well as a personal mentor to help develop the idea and provide ongoing support.
The NEA is open to those aged 18 or over who have a business idea and are in receipt of Jobseeker’s Allowance, Income Support as a lone parent or Employment and Support Allowance.
Often those entering the scheme have suffered losing their jobs through redundancy or due to serious health problems and are looking for a way to get a new business up and running to get back on their feet.
To find out more about the New Enterprise Allowance, which is funded by the Department for Work and Pensions, visit your local Jobcentre Plus where an adviser can refer you to the scheme once you receive a qualifying benefit.