PAM Education’s Lu Ban Training centre and restaurant was the venue for the ceremony at Liverpool’s Lu Ban Bar and Restaurant in the iconic Cains Brewery Village was attended by special guests including Gary Millar, deputy mayor of Liverpool; Paul Kallee-Grover, chair of the Liverpool China Partnership; James Holden of the Royal Academy of Culinary Arts; and Paul Askew, Chef Patron of The Art School in Liverpool to see David Joseph Critchley, executive head chef at Lu Ban become the final apprentice to one of China’s top level master chefs.

In a video-link between China’s Tianjin Economics and Trade School (Tianjin School of Cuisine) and Liverpool’s Lu Ban, David Critchley was officially invited to become an apprentice of Mr Zhengxi Wu, a national level Master Chef of China. Critchley is the final apprentice Mr Wu and is the first ever internationally appointed Master chef apprentice in Chinese culinary arts.

The appointment was confirmed with a symbolic exchange between apprentice and MasterChef through the serving of tea to Mr Wu, and the awarding of official chef’s hat to David.

Considered a significant moment in Chinese culinary culture, the event sees technique exchange between the two countries with the goal to develop the learning of authentic Chinese food culture and Chinese culinary arts in the UK and further afield.

Led by Dr Xiaoli Dutton in the UK, principal of the International Academy of Chinese Culinary Arts (IACCA) and Mr. Zaiqian Zhang, deputy principal of Tianjin Economics and Trade School, the proceedings included a speech from deputy mayor Gary Millar, who congratulated David and highlighted the importance of the partnership between Liverpool and Tianjin, welcoming the opportunities this brings to the city.

With China now keen to develop the skills of its own chefs in the art of western cuisine, the plans to develop further partnerships between Liverpool and Tianjin are in motion with a committee based in both locations being set up to progress this.

David J Critchley profile:

David began working in a kitchen at age 15 at The Halfway House in 1998 while still studying at high school and continued working there until completion of his studies at college and University.

At 23 David took his first head chef job at 52 Lark Lane bistro.
A year later, he became a Junior sous chef at the then prestigious Alma de Cuba and over the next 7 years worked his way up to Head Chef and eventually Operations Chef to oversee 5 sites.

David’s next move was to the London Carriage Works at Hope Street Hotel, where he took over the reins from chef Paul Askew, maintaining 2 AA rosettes for 4 years amongst various other accolades.


In 2017 David moved to Manchester and became operations chef for Australasia, of the Living ventures group, eventually being fully focused on the flagship restaurant Australasia, an Asian themed award-winning restaurant and bar.
In 2019, David was approached by the team behind Lu Ban and became the executive head chef of Lu Ban Bar and Restaurant.

Mr. Wu’s Profile

Mr. Zhengxi Wu is a senior Chinese culinary Master Chef of China, senior assessor for the Tianjin Municipal Vocational and Technical Assessment centre and a member of the professional committee of the Tianjin Cuisine Association. He serves on the expert panel of Chinese chefs training tool kit development project, is a member of Tianjin style cuisine association, a senior mentor for work placement programme and senior consultant of Lu Ban Workshop Education Centre at Tianjin Economics and Trade School. Mr. Wu has been working in the culinary education sector for nearly 40 years and has taught more than 10,000 students.

He also mentored students to win national prizes in culinary skills competitions among China National Vocation and Technical Colleges and Universities.

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