I applied for an Apprenticeship programme called the Raymond Blanc Academy, working as a Commis Chef with Sodexo. My current roles are prep and shadowing the other chefs in different sections of the kitchen. I am preparing for all sections in the kitchen.
I did the masterclass at St Luke’s in food prep at school, did some dishes and spoke to Clare Johnson, who said she loved me! She then spoke to us about doing the apprenticeship, took our emails and contact numbers.
During my apprenticeship, there have been lots of opportunities offered to me to develop as a chef. The diversity of placements has made the apprenticeship interesting. I started off at the RAF museum. The type of food here was casual scene, for example: burgers, chips, etc. I felt this was a good starting point to get the basics; there was very good support from my employers and lots of chances to develop my skills. Once I’d mastered the menu, I actually told the head chef I was up for cooking more challenging dishes, so he changed the menu for me! I then went to Wallace Collection. It was very high end (posh) here and a different vibe completely! I learned how to prepare and cook food from scratch. It was great to watch and learn from other professional chefs, especially when plating food. I then started my role at the Le Manoir! I had the opportunity to live in – I enjoyed this, as I prefer living away. I feel more independent now. All of the chefs in the kitchen are under 30. I am currently working on different sections, canapes and goods received, watching being prepped is amazing.
Miracle Umunna is a Commis Chef with Sodexo.
I have more confidence, now. I understand lots more culinary terms, which I am now able to do in practice. I’m now being given more responsibility in the kitchen than I would have got from college. I feel so free, as I am living away from home and I have learned how to do grocery shopping – but it hurts when I see the money going from my account!
I want to develop as a chef and go further. I’m learning to communicate with adults and work in an environment of only adults. I am learning about the different food groups on my course. One skill I have learned is about emulsification but at Le Manoir, I’m getting a deeper understanding about this. I am gaining independence living alone at work; I do love this.
Resilience and commitment. You have to show up for work on time, not just rock up when you want to. You need a lot of psychological commitment, as well – it’s not just a small apprenticeship. Overcoming Challenges, too. Working with people older than me, if I’m not happy with what they are teaching, I can’t have a strop as they are more experienced than me. I have to listen to what they are teaching me.
It has encouraged me to become a chef. I would also like to gain more qualifications and more education in other things. I might do a Level 3 Chef de Partie course.
Sodexo have been brilliant – I love them! Emeline texts me regularly to make sure I’m OK. They remember that I’m still a child. I also text my old head chefs.
HIT Training are lovely. I love the Masterclasses. I tunnel boned a chicken at the last Masterclass. I have also enjoyed the group sessions with Cathy at the Bateaux.
Working at the Le Manoir and going to the Masterclasses. The main reward has been working with people with more experience than me. The chefs have all given me a gift when I have left the placements.
I would say, absolutely – do it! Obviously, apprenticeships are not the typical choice for 16-year-olds, they usually go to college. But you gain so much experience by taking an apprenticeship. So much opportunity is given to us. And the more you put into it, the more you get out of it. If we are respectful to them, they are respectful to us in return.
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