With the Graduate Awards entry deadline getting closer, it’s great to catch up with the current Highest Achiever, Amber Francis to find out more about what she’s been up to recently.

I’m back! Bet you thought you got rid of me, didn’t you? Well it appears that my last blog was at least slightly interesting as the Craft Guild of Chefs has asked me to talk about my life a little bit more!

So, what have I been up to since last time I blogged? Well it’s been another busy month of moving house, events and exams. I was very fortunate to be invited to the Craft Guild of Chefs’ Annual General Meeting (AGM) lunch on a beautiful summer Sunday last month. These events are always great for networking, meeting other chefs and catching up with old friends alike. Little did I know that I had been invited to the event to receive the Craft Guild of Chefs Rising Star 2016-2017 award. Three other young chefs also received the award and it was an honour to stand beside them.

Amber3The next few weeks were spent honing my skills in the pastry section, at The Ritz where I work, in preparation for my return to college. I have been very lucky in my apprenticeship that I have been given the opportunity to work for at least six months in every section of the kitchen. This has given me a real understanding of the running of a professional kitchen and has enabled me to really develop my skills in all areas. It has all lead up to this, my final term at college.

I am now back at Bournemouth and Poole College studying on a unique course which is backed by the Royal Academy of Culinary Arts, called the Specialised Chefs’ Scholarship. This course enables students to spend three months at college, they are then offered interviews for placements in some of the best restaurants and country house hotels in London and across the UK. Specialised Chef apprentices then spend a whole year in full employment before returning to college once again for three months, this is then repeated until they come back for the final year to complete their apprenticeship. This is the stage I am at now. The last week has been a blur of moving all my belongings back to Bournemouth for the last time, getting back into the swing of college and lectures and reuniting with old friends and fellow chefs. The exams have already begun, oh yes, not even a week in and I have just finished my first pastry exam.

Amber1Next week several presentations are due in and a theory exam – don’t let anyone tell you that training to be a chef is easy! But it is rewarding, and returning to college has made me realise how far myself and all the other apprentices have come in the last three years. We are already feeling rather nostalgic.

What else is happening? Well I’m currently heading back to London in preparation for Tough Mudder with the rest of Team Ritz. We are raising money for a very worthy cause, Help for Heroes. Whilst it’s going to be a challenge for us all, everyone is really looking forward to it. Then it’s a return back to Bournemouth and back to the realities of being a trainee chef, a Bank Holiday weekend of laundry, ironing and starching chef whites and cleaning and polishing shoes and then research and homework awaits. No rest for the wicked I guess! Amber2

One final piece of exciting news is that I have sent off my acceptance for competing in the Young National Chef of the Year finals this year! This really does show what a fantastic opportunity the Graduate Awards provides for young chefs. It has opened so many new doors for me, including the opportunity to compete in more competitions. If you haven’t already entered then I really recommend that you do.

Well, until next time I hope you all have a good month and enjoy the weather as it, hopefully, draws into British summertime.