Karen has had several careers including beauty therapy and care work. Feeling ready for a change, Karen has taken the Certificate in Culinary Skills to fulfill her ambition of working as a private chef. Here she tells us about her experience of the course…
Tell us about your career background
I’ve had several careers. I ran my own business for 10 years as a beauty therapist, and for the last 15 years I’ve been doing care work. I’m ready for a change of direction and a new challenge. I want to learn new skills, I think life is a continuous journey of development.
Why did you decide to take the course?
It’s very much a means to an ends and I’m hoping to get back to work as soon as possible. But it’s also about building on my own hobby of cooking, and to get paid for something I enjoy. I had a lightbulb moment when I realised I wanted to get a housekeeper/private chef position but the type of clients who can afford a housekeeper are very high profile families and they want professional cooks. Although I’ve been cooking and housekeeping as part of my care work, I realised I needed to up my skills and experience to go for a private chef job.
Why did you choose to study at White Pepper?
I went online and researched several cookery schools. I phoned White Pepper and they sounded so enthusiastic and motivated that it really inspired me to want to learn there. The classes are very small which also appealed to me as everyone gets individual attention. At my age, I knew it was now or never!
How was your accommodation?
I’m from Liverpool so I needed somewhere to stay whilst I was on the course. Luke and his team supported me with finding accommodation and transport to the school. I stayed at a local B&B run by Christine Crompton and it was very, very good. She dropped me in each morning and one of the other students kindly gave me a lift home each day. Christine was very attentive and helpful, she even washed and ironed my chef uniform!
What skills do you feel have most improved?
Time planning has been one of the most valuable skills I’ve learnt on the course. If you’ve got 15 people sitting down for dinner, the food needs to be served hot and fresh. Learning how to hold food properly is really useful, and it links in with the Food Safety & Hygiene Certificate we gained. Also, I’ve overcome my fears of fish filleting and jointing a chicken. Luke came around individually to help us, and I might not have had that attention at a larger cookery school.
What things have you enjoyed the most about the course?
Luke is very professional and I’ve really enjoyed the motivation, focus and positivity that he has brought to the course. He doesn’t let you drag your heels, he has his finger on the pulse the whole time. Also, we really came together as a team. There were a wide variety of people on the course but we all supported each other which was great. It’s another good skill to have for working in a professional kitchen.
Do you feel ready to apply for a private chef job now?
I feel I could definitely apply for a private chef/housekeeper position now with confidence. I’ve been inspired to learn more and I now want to take my skills and get more practice and experience. I would be confident managing a high end dinner party for a high profile family and am feeling positive about my future!