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Jamie studied Professional Cookery from 2005-2007 and worked with Gordon Ramsay and Michael Caines before becoming head chef at Saunton Sands Hotel.
Then: NVQ 2 in Professional Cookery (Preparation & Cooking) and NVQ 2 in Food & Drink Service (2005-2007) at North Devon Campus Now: Head chef at Saunton Sands Hotel
“I went to Park School. I’m Barnstaple born and bred. After leaving Petroc, I was working in Barnstaple. I moved to London and went and worked for Gordon Ramsay. He was hot-headed but he’s not that bad. It was hard work – 18-hour days for two years. But it was a good starting point and a good foundation.
“To increase my knowledge, I went to work with Michael Caines at Gidleigh Park. That was a lot different. He is an amazing chef to work for. He taught me the most and he really cares about his staff. I then did Michelin-star temp work.
“I went to Saunton Sands as junior sous chef, and left there two years later. I went to work at a three-rosette restaurant called Summer Lodge – one of the best hotels in the country. Then I got asked to come back to Saunton Sands as head chef, where I am now.
“I was on Masterchef the Professionals in 2015, which did quite a lot for my career. It was good to be in it; it was a different style of cooking altogether. I went to Sheffield and someone recognised me and chased me down the street. A woman in London asked for my autograph when I was getting a burrito! The highlight of my career so far is probably being told by (Masterchef judge and two-Michelin-starred chef) Marcus Wareing that my dish was flawless and he wouldn’t change it if he served it in his own restaurant.
“In 2015, I also did the San Pellegrino competition (a national competition open to chefs aged 30 and under) and came second. The person who beat me went to win the global competition. I got to the final of the South West Chef of the Year competition in 2015 too and the finals of the UK competition. I won South West Chef of the Year last year (2016) – it was great to go back.
“Everything I learnt at Petroc is part of the repertoire. It’s all the basics you need to know and everything stems from that. My advice to any young chef is you have got to put something in to get something out. No one gets anything by sitting around. Work hard, listen, learn, keep your head down. It’s a tough industry, but as soon as you fall in love with it you just enjoy it.”
Natasha is studying Level 1 Hospitality & Catering at our Mid Devon campus
Hospitality & Catering Level 1
Mid Devon Campus
Former pupil of Exmouth Community College
While at school in Exmouth, Natasha attended Petroc one day per week on the ‘Links Programme’ to study and practice catering. She enjoyed it and developed a passion for cooking – when she left school, Petroc was the obvious choice to help her pursue her dream of becoming a chef.
In only her first year at Petroc, Natasha demonstrated her abilities to the degree that she was entered in the Springboard ‘FutureChef’ competition. She performed extremely well against some impressive competition to reach the second round (hosted at Petroc’s Barnstaple campus). Her journey in the competition ended there but the experience has fired up Natasha’s determination to do better when she enters next year! Natasha went on to say: “FutureChef was a tough and inspirational experience but it was a real eye-opener and I am glad I did it. The experience was invaluable”.
Natasha describes the Tiverton campus as being like her extended family and she feels welcome and supported here. She plans to progress her education at Petroc and will be undertaking Levels 2 & 3 in Catering.
Her ultimate goal is to become a chef on cruise ship: “I really want to see the world and indulge my passion for creating fantastic food, so this ambition ticks both those boxes’.
Natasha’s advice to anyone considering a career in catering is: “Listen to the lecturing staff very carefully, they have the experience and skills to make your studies here more productive and rewarding”.
Craig studied the Level 3 Diploma in Professional Cookery at Petroc's Mid Devon Campus back in 2011 and is now Junior Sous Chef at The Jack in the Green
“I studied professional cookery at Petroc, and left in 2011. However, I have always kept in contact with my former lecturer, and have recently returned to the college to give a fish demonstration to current students.
During my time at college, I was fortunate enough to secure work experience at two of the region’s top restaurants; Rick Stein in Padstow and Michael Caines’ ABode. Both gave me so much confidence and at my final work experience placement, at The Jack in the Green in Exeter, I was offered a job.
I got in to cookery, originally, because my nan was in catering and my dad was a hotel manager, so it’s an industry I’ve grown up hearing about and experiencing first-hand. There are pictures of me, at the age of four, next to a stove ‘cooking’! When I was still at school I actually did one day of cookery a week at Petroc’s North Devon Campus (or North Devon College, as it was called then) on one of the 14-16 programmes, so I already knew I wanted to study it at a higher level when I came to college.
It’s a fantastic, varied industry to work in. However, it’s not a sociable job because of the hours, so anyone going into this profession needs to be prepared to work hard and make certain sacrifices. Having said that, it can also be so rewarding. Nothing beats seeing the smile on a customer’s face when they’ve really enjoyed something which you have cooked for them.
My advice to anyone currently choosing what to study at college would be to pick something you’re passionate about, because then it’ll never really feel like you’re studying or working. Commitment is the key to being successful in this industry. It sounds clichéd, but hard work does pay off.
In the four and a half years that I’ve been at The Jack in the Green I’ve worked my way up and gained more responsibility. In my current role as junior sous chef I now run the kitchen on some evenings when those who are above me are away. The long term goal would be to become a head chef in a well-respected, successful restaurant and perhaps even have my own establishment one day.”
Peter embarked on an apprenticeship and turned his life around.
NVQ Professional Cookery Level 2 (Apprenticeship)
Employer: Manor House Café
“Finding an apprenticeship was a turning point for me.
I’ll be the first to admit that I was a difficult teenager. I fell into the wrong crowd and got wrapped up in a world of drugs, mainly cannabis, and got kicked out of school and fired from numerous jobs.
About a year ago I thought ‘enough is enough’ and was determined to sort my life out. I’d heard that apprenticeships were a good way to get into an industry, so started asking around in cafés and restaurants in my home town of Ilfracombe.
When I was at NDPLS [North Devon Personalised Learning Service] I did some professional cookery, and found it really interesting. In fact, my teachers there tried to encourage me to do cookery at college, but my head wasn’t in the right space at that time and I refused.
Anyway, after asking three times (!), I eventually got a job at Manor House Café.
At the very beginning, they made it clear that they had a strict no drugs policy. I knew there and then that I had to kick the habit if I wanted to succeed. If it wasn’t for my employer I don’t think I would have quit and who knows where I’d be now.
It’s been tough at times, I’m not going to lie. Friends sometimes mock me because I earn a lot less than them. But, I just think, at least I’m not in a dead-end job. I’m working my way up. And, I’m getting so much more from my employer than just a wage; they’re investing time in me and teaching me the skills I need to climb in this industry. You have to start somewhere!
My employer shows a real interest in what I’m doing on my course and after my ‘college day’ we spend time at work going over the new dishes I’ve learnt and he helps me with anything I’m unsure of. This works the other way too, and my lecturer at college is always there to offer advice with things I’m struggling with at work.
I definitely made the right choice in terms of entering the catering industry, as there are so many different job options. Everyone needs to eat so there’s always a need for a chef, wherever you are in the world.
I’d like to use my profession to travel in the future and am currently looking into how to become a chef in the Armed Forces.”