A MAN who started his career as a part-time pot washer at his local hotel has been appointed head chef.

Tom Sleightholme was a 16-year-old pupil at Ryedale School when he took on the dish-washing role at The Feathers Hotel in Helmsley.

He said: “I went on washing pots and occasionally helping out chopping vegetables when they were short-staffed in the kitchen, all through my A-levels at York College.”

Tom, who is originally from Nawton, said he had no desire to go to university so went to work full-time as a basic commis chef at The Feathers.

After the hotel was acquired by The Coaching Inn Group, Tom went on to be named kitchen team member of the year and later sous chef of the year in the company’s annual awards, before progressing to head chef.

Tom said: “Taking over as head chef has been both an exciting and initially scary experience, but it’s my dream job.

“I was given a lot of responsibility, support and encouragement by previous head chef Ian Turner.”

“Not only that, I’ve had amazing, 100 per cent support from all five of my kitchen team members, which has made all the difference,” he added.

Tom, who now lives in Helmsley, has another special reason to celebrate his success at The Feathers.

For it was here that he met his partner Hollie after she came to work as bar manager.

David Simms, group executive chef of the Coaching Inn Group, which runs The Feathers, alongside 14 other hotels and coaching inns in market towns across the country, said Tom’s rise from the sinks to leading the kitchen at Helmsley had come as no surprise to anyone.

He said: “His passion and dedication have gone hand in hand with the Coaching Inn Group’s focus on unlocking potential.

“I’m tremendously proud of Tom’s realisation of his dream,

“We knew we had a special talent in Tom and it was chefs like him that inspired us to launch our very own in-house chefs academy from which he has benefited.”

David added: “Tom is a great example of what can be achieved by any of our team members wanting to develop their careers with us, he is living proof.”