Name: Rosie Dunningham
Course Taken: Certificate in Professional Cookery
Graduated: July 2015
1. What kind of a cook were you before taking the course?
Cooking became a huge passion of mine during my first year of University, where I had to learn to cook myself in order to eat well! I discovered a love of baking, so started to write a baking blog which I still keep up now. I love cooking meals for friends and family, especially anything Middle Eastern from Ottolenghi, and after everyone saying how I should pursue food properly and make a career out of it, I decided they were right, and why not make a career out of what you love! So my skill level before the course was pretty average, with no knife skills whatsoever, but I was always adventurous with trying unusual recipes and different ingredients and techniques.
2. What was your motivation for choosing the Certificate in Professional Cookery?
My ambitions were to gain enough basic knowledge and skills in cookery to be able to get a job in a professional kitchen, and not fall at the first hurdle by not chopping an onion fast enough or not knowing a basic technique!
3. What made you choose the Ashburton Cookery School?
I had never heard of Ashburton, but after googling the top cookery courses in England it really appealed to me for its professionalism, reasonable price and the duration was long enough for me but not too long, as I was fitting it in during a break from University. The detail given about the course and what you do each day was great as it fit in exactly with what I wanted to learn.
4. What did you think of the course content and structure?
It was absolutely fantastic. On our first day we were given our timetable of what we cook each day, and I was amazed at how much was on there. I never thought we’d be able to get through it all, but everything is organised to a T. Me and my friend were poring over every dish on the itinerary, they all sounded so delicious and I couldn’t believe I’d be making all of it! She made me promise to bring her bits of everything. It was so exciting.
5. What did you think of the facilities?
It honestly feels like you’re in the Masterchef kitchen. Everything is super modern, shiny and state of the art. The layout of the whole building is lovely, you have your own dining room area where you eat the food and meet each day with lots of tea and coffee, even the cutlery is to die for! I can’t express enough how impressed I was with the facilities. It’s made me aspire to have an induction hob one day for my own kitchen!
6. What did you think of the chef tutor team?
They were incredible and truly made the course special. Any questions you have, they are more than happy to answer which really gave me an invaluable insight into the world of cooking. They’ve all got amazing experience so I felt like I was really learning from the best. Aside from teaching you how to cook, they really help with other things you wouldn’t necessarily think about, such as what to put on a menu to make your profit (soups and pork belly!), never throw anything away because that’s like throwing away money, make something out of it for your dish. The little nuggets of information that I got from them will stay with me forever!
7. What did you think of the course overall?
It was honestly the best thing I’ve ever done. The people were amazing. You’re spending all day every day with people who are just as passionate as you about all things food, so the ideas and stories you share are amazing. I would go back in a heartbeat to do more courses.
8. Did you feel more confident in your cookery after the course?
Absolutely! I throw dinner parties here there and everywhere now. It even enabled me to get my first cooking job, which was amazing, and I feel ready to get a job in a kitchen after I’ve completed my degree.
9. Were the qualifications important to you?
Yes, definitely. I plan on working in a professional kitchen so they are a must, and it was much easier and much more fun to do the Food Hygiene qualification at the beginning of the course, before the fun cooking part began!
10. How have you used your cookery skills after you completed the course?
Myself and another girl who did the course signed up with lots of catering job agencies when we finished, and we secured a two week job as private chefs for a family in their holiday home in St. Tropez. That was my first time in the South of France, and it was incredible in every way! We prepared breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea and a two course dinner every day for a family of 5, with 5 guests, and one night we did a dinner party for 28 people. I had to pan fry 28 fillets of sea bass! Before Ashburton I would never have thought I was capable of doing something like that.
11. What are your plans for the future?
In May I will sit my final exams and finally will be able to begin my culinary career properly! My plan is to try and get a job as a crew chef on a yacht, but the hiring times are April/May so I may miss that boat (haha). So if I have to wait until 2017, I might try and do some chalet chef work, or even look for an apprenticeship in a restaurant. My goal is to work in a fine dining establishment one day!
12. Would you recommend the course to others?
Absolutely yes, I would recommend it in a heartbeat. In actual fact, my best friend Robyn completed the course herself after I did, because she read my blog about it all and thought it sounded brilliant!
13. Do you have advice for others that are considering the course?
Just go for it. Ask questions, take notes, eat all of the food, make the most of it! Oh, and get the knife set that you learn with! I love mine to bits.