Marketing have been tasked with spending a “Day in the life of” a variety of students.
As a Marketing and PR Officer, I quite often interview students for blogs, case studies and press stories. However, I haven’t had the opportunity to spend the day as the ‘student’.
It might be a little bias, but think I may have scored the best class with Professional Cookery (Level 5). Firstly because I got to cook with the class and secondly, I got to eat what I made! Thankfully, the students were there to keep me right.
Arriving at 8:45am on a Monday morning outside the student kitchens I found my student mentor, Linda McIntosh, a mature student from Kilmarnock. She has to be one of the most enthusiastic students I have met to interview for the College blog. She helped me source my kitchen attire and off we went for a morning of cooking.
The most striking thing about being in the professional cookery class was the immediate feeling of acceptance and sense of community. Not one student in that room was excluded from the social conversation or kept to themselves. Everyone in the class looked out for each other. It wasn’t uncommon to hear “don’t worry I will stir your sauce” or “leave the dishes, I will wash them for you”. The pressure in the kitchen is intense but not one student looked the slightest bit stressed.
Linda started her College career in 2016 with an NC in Business and Administration, afterwards moving to Introduction to Professional Cookery in January 2017, and starting her full-time Professional Cookery (Level 5) class in August 2017.
While Linda and I prepared the class lesson dish: lemon and thyme pork chop with Pomme Anna potatoes and fine beans rolled in bacon, with an Espagnole sauce, we chatted about why she decided to come back College.
Linda explained what it’s like to be a Professional Cookery Student…
“The people in this class are lovely. It’s great being in a class where those around you are supportive and help each other out. I am loving the course, I look forward to each class, every week. It’s just great.”
What’s the best part of the day?
“I would have to say getting to try what we have made. Although, I really enjoy every part of the day to be honest, getting to taste the food is what it’s all about. It’s a great atmosphere in the kitchen with the class. We learn new elements of cooking every lesson, it’s so much more than just practical cooking.”
Did you feel apprehensive about coming to College?
“No not at all, it felt right. For some of the younger students the course might be the first time they are cooking something so complex, but they do great. I don’t feel out of place in the kitchen, cooking is something I have always enjoyed. I also don’t feel uncomfortable being in a class with more young people than people my age. Age is not a barrier.
When I completed the Admin and IT course, I knew I wanted to move into cookery. I started the January course in professional cookery to learn the basic skills required for the next level starting in August (2017). I feel like I just absorbed everything they taught us in the course and I gained the basic skills required to continue.”
Is there anything you find challenging?
“I need to work more on my IT skills, especially when it comes to sending documents. Sometimes I am fine, other times I need help to find the correct functions to select. A lot of people my age don’t have skills in IT. I had to learn how to work computer programmes and online platforms, this wasn’t something I grew up with.
I am really pleased that I did the Administration and IT course first, only because I feel it has helped my confidence with using technology. We upload photographs and theory work online for the lecturers after we have cooked the dish, so having the skills to do this has been helpful.”
Do you like the teaching style of the class?
“I really enjoy the way the course is taught. You aren’t inundated with things. There is a bit of theory in the classroom and practical in the kitchens. We learn about the art of cookery. I just found out there are 5 mother sauces, we have learnt some of them so far. We learn their derivatives and the ingredients of each base sauce, it’s just great. I also enjoy being able to put into practice what I have learnt, it helps me to process the theory work.”
(I would like to add that never have I seen a class full of students applaud and cheer at a lecturers demonstration – the Pomme Anna potatoes turned out perfectly when tipped out of the bowl onto the plate. The enthusiasm and excitement about cooking is undeniable in the class.)
Do you plan to move onto the Level 6 course?
“I would like to progress to the next level of professional cookery. If I pass this course, I don’t see why not. It’s what I am interested in and feel I am good at.”
What are your future plans?
“I would like to work in the industry, or create my own if I have too. If I could get myself up and running with my own business then I could employ some people; other students even that have done courses like this. You have got to have plenty of drive but I would like that. I could even have an online business. There are lots of opportunities out there. The world is your oyster.”
At the end of our conversation, Linda revealed she had been nominated for an Excellence Award by the course lecturer. She was absolutely delighted and the class were equally pleased for her.
I left the class that afternoon with an infectious desire to cook. My re-creation of the Pomme Anna potatoes at home even got a thumbs up, I may have to consider a career change.
Do you think you a course in Professional Cookery might be for you? Check out the course description and how to apply here.