2012, the year when I turned my life upside down… I made a deal with myself, I wasn’t happy at university and needed to take my life in a different direction. I thought to myself, what in the entire world truly makes me happy? That was easy… making, baking, creating and providing for loved ones. I knew what I had to do… I was determined to follow the path that all along I knew I should have followed in the first place….
Within two weeks of leaving university, I had found an opening which saw me pack up and leave Cardiff, heading South for a new life to begin in Cornwall… and this is where my adventure began.
All in all, 2012 was a steep learning curve, working for Rick Stein was a blessing as I immersed myself into the life and culture of the food industry, ever fine tuning my skills, tastes and knowledge. Having worked as front of house, being so close to the goings on of the kitchens, I was in awe of every chef at their station, working with precision to create lip smackingly delicious plates for the punters. Having spoken to Stuart Pate, the head pastry chef at The Seafood Restaurant, further sparked my desire to follow my path… After this whirlwind gap year, in 2013 I decided to return home and begin my quest to further my knowledge in the food industry…
That is when I discovered the School of Artisan Food, a not-for-profit organisational centre of excellence providing training solely focusing on the trades in the artisan food industry, idyllically situated on the Welbeck Estate, in the heart of the picturesque Nottinghamshire countryside. The school was running into its fourth year, having been founded in 2009. The school offers a vast collection of courses, be they short, advanced, introductory or professional, but also they offered the advanced diploma in bakery qualification, I had finally found my yellow brick road! The diploma sees you through 10 intensive months of practical, theory, placements all focusing on artisan bakery as a trade, a skill, an art form… a livelihood! Hastily I completed and sent the application form there and then!
A few weeks passed, then the day came, I got the email… I was asked for an interview!
A few days before my birthday, on a rather dull grey day in late May my Mum and I made the journey to the school. Words cannot describe the sheer beauty of the school’s location, not even the treacherous weather could mask the beauty of the Welbeck Estate. I remember driving along the private road to access the school looking out of the car window, glancing at the flock of sheep grazing on Cow Parsley which was growing in the tree laden pastures, the setting made even more beautiful by the sun peering out of its thick cumulus nimbus duvet. We pulled up at the school and I nervously made my way to entrance. I was met with a warm welcome by Sheila, the Director of Studies at the school… I was given a tour of the facilities, I was extremely impressed with their primary training room, as well as expressing sheer excitement when met with the vast array of books in the resource room, I felt at ease and after the tour happily discussed with Sheila why it was that I wanted to be a student at the school… I could not contain my elation when Sheila offered me a place at the school there and then! Afterwards, I ran, jumped and skipped my way back to my Mum to let her know of the good news.
After many months of working, saving and hibernating, I am proud to say this September, I finally made it to the School of Artisan Food and am now 2 months into this intensive diploma course. I now feel settled enough to begin documenting my journey here. Already we have baked a plethora of breads, pastries, enriched doughs and garnishes…. The tutors are of the best in their field, us students are very privileged to have such renowned experts as mentors! Our principle bakery tutor is a tad obsessed with baguettes, which is a blessing as they are one of the most difficult things to perfect in the baking world! Practice makes perfect!
Here’s to the next 8 months, may they be full of adventure, knowledge, fun, passion and maybe, just maybe in July 2015, I can look forward to gaining the knowledge and having the privilege of calling myself a proper artisan baker, and may the journey of discovery continue as like many things in life and life itself, the journey of education is infinite!
Until next time…
Peace and loaf x