Tuesday, July 09, 2013

School's out...and what happens next...?

It's official - school's out. The Leiths diploma finished at the end of June. After 6 months of classes, demonstrations, fun, butter, learning new skills, ironing aprons, cream/butter and grinning everyday day that I got to do this, it's finally over.

And now it's back to the real world. Gulp.

Since finishing school a whole new set of adventures have begun. This time last year I'd just landed across the water in London and was feeling terrified about leaving everything behind in Ireland to follow this crazy dream. If you told me back then what I'd get to do this year I'd probably still be laughing. The last two weeks have been a whirlwind and here's a little taster of what's been happening...

Like working alongside the brilliant Mickael Weiss of Coq D'Argent at Taste of London. Working with Action Against Hunger we recreated 5 star burger designed by top London chefs and the stand was the busiest at the festival. Which translates to over 2,000 burgers in one day. I kind of went off burgers for a little while after that. There I am now with Mickael, showing that bacon who's the boss. 

Having met Mickael I harassed him jumped at the chance to work at his restaurant last week. Which turned out to be one of the busiest days they've had all year. WHAT a day/evening/night. I wish I could describe properly the adrenalin rush during service. How everything else fades away and all you concentrate on is getting the best food out, in the quickest way. How afterwards when you get home your mind won't switch off as you replay every little thing you saw and did in the kitchen. How you only realise your legs and feet are aching when you sit down after a 15 hour shift.

Fruits de mers and plating up beef carpaccio at Coq d'Argent

While cookery school can teach you skills and techniques, there is no substitute for real restaurant experience. Since April I've been lucky enough to gain experience working as a part time chef at  The Ship in Wandsworth. General Manager Oisin and Head Chef Shaun kindly gave me my first opportunity.

And we do the best burgers in London. So I got used to burgers again. Roll on more sunny days like last Sunday at The Ship. Just when you think you couldn't get any hotter than being on a sticky Tube why not stand beside three grills?

Speaking of having fun in kitchens (and we were, weren't we?). How about 1,000 pancakes and maple syrup? Otherwise known as Canada Day in Trafalgar Square with the Dine Mile High Club and some other lovely Leiths students.

Hungry Canadians in Trafalgar Square

From crazy kitchens to developing my other love of food styling and assisting the wonderful Food Stylist, Laura Fyfe. Learning all the different elements involved in a food shoot is a fascinating process and one which I'm keen to experience more of.

Props at a food styling shoot

I've also dipped my whisk into teaching and am working with Venturi's Table cookery school where students create Italian treats including beautiful handmade pasta.

In between all of that there's also been some time to enjoy the glorious sunshine and eat out in Greenwich. Sure you'd have to, it would be rude not to. All food has been consumed for the purposes of career research.

Ice-cream sampling in Greenwich 

Ah, what a fun 2 weeks.  I'm typing this sitting by the South Bank, the sun is shining, the birds are chirping (OK, it's pigeons pecking at my feet) and it feels like things are going to get even more exciting.

One thing that has stood out over the past few months is how friendly and helpful people have been. Meeting people who are so passionate about food and willing to share their expertise has helped me so much and I'm very grateful.

What happens next? Well the plan is to work as a chef while also doing free lance catering, cheffing, food styling, writing and teaching roles. 

This time last year I didn't know what was in store. A part of me is still terrified, but the other bigger part (full of cream and butter now) is having the time of her life and hopes it never ends.

In the words of Julia Child, 'Cooking is like love, it should be entered into with abandon or not at all'. 

So let's go for it...


  1. Good luck with it all. Sounds like an exciting new chapter!

  2. Thanks Jess! It feels like it too...onwards and upwards :-)