Hello all! I’m Kacey, and last year I was lucky enough to be awarded the Highest Achiever in the first ever Pastry Graduate Awards. This time last year I sent off my application with the hope for a new challenge and to gain some new skills. Little did I know how much it would push me to commit, focus and really put 100% in, and become a better pastry chef each day.

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The experience was better than I could have imagined, with not only help and guidance from my head chef, but from all the judges, who all wanted everyone to do well.  We had demonstrations from some amazing pastry chefs and chocolatiers, as well as a ‘bean to bar’ session at the Mars factory.

It was also a great opportunity to meet other pastry chefs in the industry, to learn from each other and go through the experience together. As a pastry chef, it was also nice to connect with some kitchen chefs, as I know limited people from this section. Amber Francis (Highest Achiever in kitchen 2016) is an awesome chef and a good friend of mine. I was lucky to gain the award surrounded by such talent.

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So, since the craziness from gaining Highest Achiever, I’m now working at the Shangri-la London At The Shard London. I’m currently on afternoon tea which is the busiest section, so every morning is busy and intense prepping about 1,500 pastries. But it’s great when you’re surrounded by an awesome team where everyone pushes, all striving for perfection in each pastry.

My challenges at work are definitely more advanced than a year ago and I think that’s because of doing the Graduate Award. We had numerous training days to prepare us for the final challenges. That’s where I learnt how to design and build my first chocolate sculpture; since then along with the head chef, we’ve done some beautiful showpieces for the Shangri-la hotel at the Shard, I even taught myself how to make chocolate daffodils for our Easter sculpture which I was so proud of.

Kacey3I have recently been awarded the Rising Star of 2017 award from the Craft Guild of Chefs which was unexpected but a real career peak and I have also just participated in another pastry award. Again, another experience packed full of learning. I think competitions and working to gain awards are the best things you’ll ever do as a young chef, I have learnt this from doing the Pastry Graduate Award.

So, to all you young and committed pastry chefs out there, listen up! For me this award was like stepping up a level in my career, I gained more skills, more knowledge and most importantly, I had so much fun! I hope to be involved in this year’s awards offering my help or advice to anyone who needs it, because gaining the Pastry Graduate Award or even just trying your best is a great thing to do as a young pastry chef.

You can learn more about Kacey by following her on Twitter @bignellkacey.