Yes? Roxanne Allen did – from the tender age of 14.
Here, the now 19 year old Demi Chef de Partie from Brentwood in Essex who works at The Anthologist restaurant in the City of London, tells it like it is; warts and all (and no, warts, pickled or otherwise, don’t feature on the menu).
My job involves… getting stuck in to new challenges and getting my hands dirty. Working in the midst of the City, every day is consistently busy. Being a chef is not a glamorous job. We work long hours and are on our feet all day, prepping food, cooking, plating and cleaning, but it’s worth it.
I got my job by… working firstly as a silver service waitress at a local golf club from age 14 and then part time in a bar, while studying for my professional cookery qualifications at college over two years. (Level 2 NVQ Professional Cookery and Level 3 VQR Professional Cookery)
My day-to-day work includes… replenishing the previous night’s stock before prepping for a 12.30 lunch service on my designated section – starters, salads and, my personal favourite, desserts. A short break after lunch service finishes at 2pm, and I am back to prepping for the evening.
The most rewarding part of my job is… the sense of accomplishment you get on seeing a finished product. I used to struggle with patience, but after learning about the delicate nature of pastries, I now love taking time to create each little masterpiece. They require a lot of skill and can be very time consuming due to the intricate details but you get such a buzz once it is completed and you see that people enjoy your work.
The most challenging part of my job is…being a female in the kitchen. As the only female in the Anthologist kitchen, I have felt the pressure. As a woman, you do feel like you have something to prove in a male dominated kitchen, but cooking is my passion and I have learnt so much already from my fellow chefs. We are all extremely close. As a chef, you often spend more time at work than you do at home, so we have become more than just a team, we are a family.
My advice for anyone looking to get into this industry is… to learn from those around you. I am continually learning new skills; I’ve learnt more in the last six months on the job than I did at college, but my qualifications have ensured that I pick things up much faster and have prepared me for the fast-paced life in the kitchen. As a young kitchen team of many different nationalities, everyone has been taught different cooking styles and I’ve been fortunate enough to pick up new tricks from the other chefs. There’s always a mouth to feed, wherever you are in the world and everyone speaks the same language in food!”
For more information about what it is like to be a pub chef, check out this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s7ZSxvuVS9M. There are more stories like Roxanne’s at The Perceptions Group’s blogsite pubandbarcareers.com, a new version of which is being launched in the summer.