The former serviceman who was suicidle has been thrown a lifeline by a protégé of Jamie Oliver.
Pete Hobbs (32) from Stapleford, an avid food blogger who has over 24,000 Instagram followers, has been given the chance to pursue a career in the culinary world thanks to Aidan Mannion- head chef of Mill & Brew in London who has offered him an apprenticeship and turned his life around.
One of Jamie Oliver’s protegés from the famous ‘15’ programme has learned more from his famous mentor than cooking. Aidan Mannion, recently voted one of the UK’s top chefs under 21, is a man on a mission to restart the career of a former serviceman. Aidan, who is head chef at Mill & Brew in Mill Hill, has embraced Jamie’s generosity of spirit and is paying it forward in spades.
Aidan came across a food blog written by Pete Hobbs (32), an ex-Royal Engineer who was badly injured, nearly died from sepsis and still suffers from serious PTSD.
Like so many veterans, Pete has struggled to reintegrate into civilian society, despite being massively helped by the Back on Track Charity, set up to offer wounded veterans medical and emotional support. As a keen foodie, one of Pete’s many strategies to give his life new purpose has been to post restaurant reviews online. Aidan took a keen interest in Pete’s posts and reached out to him, inviting him up to London.
Aidan not only welcomed the veteran with open arms, he offered a culinary apprenticeship, which started a few days ago and a firm friendship has now been forged over the pasta.
Pete commented that: “I feel my life has taken a turn for the better. I have always been interested in cooking and now I have managed to make some awesome pasta and a truly next-level ravioli”.
With a window into the restaurant industry, Pete has now experienced genuine hope for his future. After years of being borderline homeless, Pete’s confidence was rock bottom and his default setting was despair. “I can’t thank Aidan enough”, he says, “the guy is a legend”.
Aidan remains typically modest, commenting that “Pete is a natural chef. He loves food and totally understands how to take care over every aspect of preparation. He was a joy to teach and I am so proud of him”. Aidan is now talking to the owner of Mill & Brew to set Pete up with an apprenticeship in the industry.
Aidan has turned the Mill & Brew kitchen into a focus for foodies from far and wide, catering for vegans, vegetarians and meat-eaters alike.
Paul has been waiting for some time for his life to turn around. Destitute and unemployed, he has been shuttled from pillar to post since he left the forces. Having nearly died from sepsis, Pete has also battled debilitating bouts of PTSD. Blogging about his passion for food has been the only thing, apart from his cats, which has kept him centred and it was through this glimpse of his ability that Aidan sensed a kindred spirit. As Paul comments: “It’s just mental and I am super thankful”.
Aidan has been delighted to help, saying: “Pete has more passion than a majority of chefs I’ve met, he can honestly go as far as he wants to in this industry. Performing the workshops with him made me feel so proud. We are now planning a special event at the restaurant together and I am advising him on the menu for a food truck business for former servicemen that he’s setting up.”
Listen to Pete’s interview on the BBC podcast: https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/p06vg2l7