Catarina Mesquita, career changer

Catarina is a graduate of the Culinary Skills Certificate (July 2016) and is a Graphic Designer by trade. She took time off to retrain for a career in the kitchen and would like to work on a yacht or set up her own food business. Here she tells us about her experience of the course…

What is your career background and why did you decide to take the course?

I trained in Graphic Design and work as a freelancer. I decided to take a few weeks off to retrain, as I have always had a passion for food and wanted to have a career change. I want to find work in a professional kitchen, so I was looking for a course that would give me a qualification to bolster my CV.

I’d like to work on boats or yachts one day, so that I can travel the world and work at the same time. The qualification is important because it is internationally recognised and will help me find work. Eventually I’d love to set up my own food business.

What made you choose WhitePepper?

I read the website and student stories and it sounded like the place for me. I like that it’s very hands-on, and the 3 years’ career support is a huge plus. It’s nice to know that you’re not on your own after the course. The Chef Academy is local so it was great I didn’t have to arrange accommodation. I also really liked the fact that the food is sourced locally in Dorset as I think it’s important to know where food has come from.

Did the extension courses help?

I stayed on to do the Provenance Tours and Fine Dining. We met local food producers and saw where the ingredients come from and how they are grown. I think this is important for a chef. The Fine Dining course was a step further, much more precise and technical.  It’s something I’d like to pursue in the future.

What skills do you feel have most improved?

Butchery and filleting were very challenging but my skills have really improved, along with pastry. I’ve learnt a lot about how ingredients work rather than just following a recipe.

What have you enjoyed most about the course?

The friendly, supportive environment and small class sizes have suited me as there’s lots of one-on-one time with the tutor. The course has given me practical experience and got me thinking about possible career avenues such as baking.

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