Two young aspiring chefs from the Liverpool City college joined us at the Inn on the Lake last week, to gain valuable experience and further their skills to help them on their way to employment. We are always looking for young talent to join our team and feel it is important to give students the opportunity to get hands-on experience in a demanding professional kitchen.
Without the right skills and experience many young people can face tough barriers to get into work or education, we try to support students by offering the opportunity to work alongside our professional chef’s, providing students with practical cooking skills including knife skills, cooking theory and work experience in a 2 AA rosette restaurant.
An interview was carried out on the two student chef’s; Faye O’Neil, 25 years old from Liverpool and Sophie Malton, 28 years old from Wiltshire, to give an insight into how they feel the placement has benefitted them. (pictured above with Head Chef Eddie Kilty)
Why do you want to be a professional chef?
Faye: I’ve always been interested and fascinated with food but it was only a year ago that I discovered my true passion for it. This was after I suffered from a life threatening illness, where I nearly lost my life. I looked back at my life and realised that the job I was doing was just a job, it paid the bills but I didn’t love it. I wanted to be passionate and happy in my work and I knew cooking would make me feel this way.
Sophie: I am a qualified primary school teacher but over the last few years the politics in schools have changed, making it difficult for teachers. I realised that I was no longer happy in my role and decided that the right career change was to train to be a chef.
What makes you passionate about being a chef?
Faye: I just love food, I enjoy it and every day is different. It’s the creative side that interests me the most, the Inn on the Lake’s dishes are amazing and I can’t wait till I’m producing dishes similar to these, it gives me something to aim for.
Sophie: I was brought up in rural Wiltshire, on good, hearty food, local produce which was often caught by my Dad. My parents hated fast food and had a strong influence over what I ate, from here I grew passionate about food. I’m also a bit of a perfectionist and love to see the finished dish.
What course do you do at college?
Faye & Sophie: VRQ Professional Cookery Diploma level 2 at Liverpool City College
How long have they been at college?
Faye & Sophie: 7 weeks
What work experience have they got in other kitchens?
Faye: None apart from college and now the Inn on the Lake. I cook all the time at home, I enjoy having people round for dinner and love the feeling that I get when they enjoy what I’ve cooked.
Sophie: When I was younger I gained experience in the hospitality industry from working as a kitchen porter, waitressing and as a barmaid. My experience has mainly come from my parents and learning as I go.
How do you feel about getting the chance to work at the Inn on the Lake?
Faye: It’s amazing, the Inn on the Lake have taken a chance on me which has boosted my confidence. It’s a massive deal to be making dishes for such a sought after restaurant, it really has the WOW factor for me.
Sophie: It’s great fun and a fantastic opportunity, I’ve been eyeing the position up for over a year now but never got the chance to take it up. We used to visit the Lakes for holidays when I was younger, I miss the countryside and the Inn on the Lake has such a good reputation that it fits in well with the whole experience.
What are you finding most challenging about training to become a chef?
Faye: It’s hard to learn all the different classic French cooking terms, over the years they have adapted and it really takes time to learn. I also need to work on the presentation of my dishes, making them more appealing to the eye.
Sophie: There is just so much to learn about the industry, the procedures, food theory, assignment theory. There’s a lot of work and research to keep on top of.
What would you like to do in the culinary field after you graduate?
Faye: I’d like to produce amazing food similar to the Inn on the Lake, I plan to work in different types of kitchens to gain as much experience as possible. My dream is to one day own my own Cat café, they are really big in Japan and one has just opened in London which has a 8 month waiting list to dine there.
Sophie: After I’ve graduated I’d like to move onto level 3, to continue developing and improving my skills. I’d like to gain as much experience as I can and hopefully one day that will pay off and I’ll be head chef or running my own catering company, I need a lot of experience first.
What do you feel the benefits are from training in a 4 star 2 AA rosette kitchen?
Faye: The benefits from training in a real kitchen is that you learn to be more precise, everything has to be spot on or it won’t be served, there’s no room for bad habits.
Sophie: Training at the Inn on the Lake is completely different to training at college; at college everything is so structured, it’s very relaxed, you’re given a recipe and instructions and around 2 hours to produce the dish. Whereas at the Inn on the Lake, it’s very hands on and busy, plus people are actually eating my food so there’s more pressure to get everything right.
Do you think the placement has helped you further your skills and gain valuable experience?
Faye: Yes! Working in the kitchen is a real team effort, everyone has there own important job which all come together to produce the end result. It’s made me realise that I like being part of a team, the staff at the Inn on the Lake have made me feel right at home and helped to further my skills in just a few days of being here.
Sophie: Yes, without a doubt! It puts everything into perspective and makes you question if you are studying in the right institution, the kitchen confirms it.
What’s the best bit of advice you’ve been given from a fellow chef?
Faye & Sophie: The best bit of advice was given from the Inn on the Lake’s Head Chef, Eddie: “You need to be prepared to work hard, don’t expect to just sit back and everything will just fall into your lap. You need to prove yourself, that way you will gain respect and go far in the industry.”
If you think you have what it takes to be a part of the Lake District Hotels on a student placement then please send a covering letter and CV with details about the college you attend, the course you are participating in and why you think you would be right for the job, to firstname.lastname@example.org