A TALENTED young chef has been made a franchisee at the age of 24 after being headhunted.

Former City College Brighton and Hove catering student Simon Duncan will be head chef of the Preston Park Tavern.

He was scouted by pub general manager Ben Murray and will take charge of six staff serving around 500 customers a week.

At just 21, Simon was made head chef of highly-rated Kemp Town restaurant Sam’s of Brighton with three successful years at the brasserie.

Simon Duncan said: “Becoming a franchisee/head chef has been a massive challenge – completely different to working for someone else.

“As well as being head chef, you’re taking on a lot of added responsibilities such as managing and paying your staff, organising supplies and dealing with accounts.

“Working in the industry has been a rapid learning curve but I’ll always give City College a lot of credit when it comes to my work ethic.

“I found that I was able to reach a level of maturity at the college because there’s mutual respect between the students and the staff.”

Since taking on his new role Simon has employed two other former City College catering students, Stuart Teague and Blake Chrysantho, as commis chef and sous chef respectively.

The Preston Park Tavern has gone from strength to strength since its refurbishment in March this year, its popularity exceeding the manager’s expectations.

Ben Murray said: “I’d worked with Simon when he was only 18 and I could see he was in a different class to young chefs I’d encountered before.

“His passion, dedication and motivation were outstanding and I’d hoped that we would get a chance to work together again.

"When I took over as general manager at the Preston Park Tavern, I immediately thought Simon would be the ideal person to run our kitchens.

“I knew that his attention to detail, understanding of flavours and commitment to using the best ingredients would appeal to our customers.

"I’m delighted with the direction the pub is going in and see Simon as being key to our success in the future.”