Who has inspired me? Thinking back to my very early years, I suppose my first interests in food came from weekends spent at my grandmothers.
I have vivid memories of setting up the dining room table for breakfast or helping her make lunch or dinner for everyone as well as occasionally making jams and preserves from the berries we had picked that day from the local park. I liked the simple concept of working with somebody else to make something that would soon be enjoyed by others.
With this in mind through my teens, this was undoubtedly the main reason behind my choice of study and once I had got a little way into my first year at catering college I really then realised that the industry was definitely for me. I was very fortunate in that my fellow course students were all as enthusiastic as me with learning and interacting in lectures and working as a team on our practical days in the kitchen or restaurant.
I will forever be grateful to my lecturers Rose, Paul, Maggie and Elma from Carshalton College who really pushed me in my first few years and sparked my interest in all aspects of the industry. It was them specifically that made me realise that with hard work and perseverance, not only could I enjoy a career in food, but I had the potential to prosper! Carshalton College was the pivotal point between merely enjoying cooking at home and realising catering as a viable career choice and the options it offered.
I then wanted to push my study a little further and decided I would continue studying at management level for a further 2 years at Westminster Kingsway College. The HND was a fantastic course that helped me further develop and included a 6-month work experience period in a country club in the United States which showed me that if you are prepared to work hard, the industry really can be THIS good!
So I think it would be safe to say that I had a great springboard heading out into the industry post further education and have moved around a fair amount since. I have always loved the fact that there are so many different avenues one can go down in this trade. You can do anything from being a hot dog vendor in a busy city centre to being an executive chef in a 5-star hotel. The scope is enormous, and it's simply up to YOU how much you do and ultimately how much you grow!
It would probably be fair to say that throughout my entire journey, 'celebrity chefs' have always played a part in building and maintaining my interest in food. Whether in the industry or not Gordon Ramsay, in particular, has always provided us with entertaining and educational television. I almost view 'Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares' as tutorials! He, for me, is the perfect example of how education, hard work, drive and perseverance can really pay off!
I've had the good fortune of meeting and chatting with a few famous faces in food over the years including Ainsley Harriott, Ken Hom, Paul Rankin and Nigella Lawson. They were all fascinating people to talk to, and each had their own stories and were equally encouraging and inspirational. For me, they are something to aspire to. The thought of being SO good at what you do and having SO much knowledge that you are confident enough to show this to a wider public audience through television or radio while becoming well known and reaping the financial benefits - wow! What could be better than that folks?
Without a doubt, hospitality & catering was the right choice for me. I consider myself very lucky to have worked for, and alongside the people I have so far and for the best part have enjoyed the ride. I have always been encouraged and inspired and will always strive to do the same for others!