Well WordPress, it has been a while! So much has happened since my last entry a few months ago. So let’s take the next few entries to catch up on everything. I suppose the best place to start is with a rather interesting turn of events concerning my “career path” (I still hate that phrase). When I returned from Barbados, following a beautiful Christmas at home, I relentlessly handed out CV after CV and applied for countless jobs in all sorts of areas. However, nothing seemed to happen. I got far with some interviews but ultimately nothing stuck and as usual lack of experience was my enemy. While this period of struggle really did inspire my time in the kitchen, allowing me to whip up some very delicious and sometimes rather extravagant dishes, I was starting to become restless and desperate. Not necessarily for a job, but desperate for a direction, just a little path to follow, something that would make me feel like I was steering my little lifeboat, rather than just aimlessly floating along.
It is funny where you can find the inspiration sometimes. You can be just sitting down innocently with some dinner on the couch, about to watch a harmless animated movie, and BAM! it smacks you right in the face (not literally of course). That is what happened to me. I found mine in an animated movie called, The Princess and the Frog. Yes I said that … The Princess and The Frog. The movie on a whole was so uplifting and I have watched it many times since, whenever I feel like I am straying off my path. Not to spoil it for anyone but it’s about a waitress who wants more than anything to make her dream of owning her very own gourmet restaurant, come true, she is even willing to kiss a frog. However, the moment which inspires me the most is the conversation between Tiana, the waitress, and her father, where he expresses his view on food: “You know the thing about good food? It brings folks together from all walks of life. It warms them right up and puts little smiles on their faces.” This quote hit a chord somewhere deep down and a spark went off somewhere inside. The next day I spent my whole day not applying for jobs but looking at various cooking schools and courses ready to start a life in food. Now I am still not entirely sure what this means, whether I’ll be a chef, a chef patron, a restaurant owner, a food writer, a caterer or any of the other titles within the food industry, but I am going to be in there somewhere.
I made this announcement the next day to my family, who did not hesitate to offer their support in my decision. And so the search for a course became a team effort. One afternoon I came home from a jog in the park to find my dad had sent me several links, but one in particular stood out for the both of us. It was a link to a site belonging to an organisation called The Chef Academy of London. After perusing through the site and the courses which they offered I decided to call and start the process of registering for their three month Professional Cooking course. This course offers 75 hours in a training kitchen, with guaranteed one-on-one training with a professional chef, and 250 hours in a restaurant working alongside the chef during the preparation of the mise en place and during service. I have been asked so often why I decided on this course rather than a traditional cooking school. The truth is it is a personal thing. Do not get me wrong it would be an absolute dream to attend a course like those of the Cordon Bleu or Ballymaloe, but I wanted to know quickly if the restaurant business itself was for me. I love cooking, but cooking at home or in a training kitchen is a very different thing to cooking in a restaurant kitchen with 100 covers in a night.
With this in mind I went for an interview with two amazing people who are part of the organisation. They talked me through the course, answered my extensive list of questions and gradually I was convinced that this course was a very good foot in the right direction. And so on the 18th of February, 2014, I entered the training kitchen in Oxford Circus and began a very interesting journey.