IMG_20161013_215306 What an exciting month! The first Young National Chef of the Year (YNCOTY) and National Chef of the Year (NCOTY) semi-finals, the AAE finals and this week the semi-finals of the Graduate Awards. I was especially happy to see Ben Champkin, a previous Graduate Awards chef through to the finals of NCOTY 2017. As a Graduate Highest Achiever I have been lucky enough to be invited along to compete in the finals of YNCOTY at The Restaurant Show later this year. It’s so great to see the progression of Graduate Awards alumni from my year and previous years. It’s such a great step in the career of young chefs and prepares you for other steps along the way.

This month I’ve been back at college in Bournemouth. We are now working really hard and on the home straight preparing for our final Royal Academy of Culinary Arts exam. Whilst I’m on that topic, massive congratulations to Sam King, a previous Graduate of the Royal Academy Specialised Chef Scholarship, also at The Ritz, who has just achieved the Annual Awards of Excellence! But, back to college it’s all heads down and focused on perfecting our dishes for our six hour exam in a few weeks time, not long to go now! We’ve had an exciting term for educational trips. Visiting Lyburn Cheese for a tour and talk on the cheese making process. The cheese and dairy industry in the current climate was really interesting to learn about. Of course the all important tasting just added to the day! We have also visited Lyburn Farm for a tour of the farm and an introduction to charcuterie and air dried sausage making. The course on tea tasting and food and tea pairings was also a massive success and we are now the first UK graduates of the Dilmah tea appreciation training. Next week we have a local vineyard trip…. brave people taking a group of twenty chefs round a vineyard!

I was lucky enough to be invited to a lunch by Graduate Awards sponsor, Villeroy and Boch earlier on this month. The lunch was held at Pied a Terre where we were hosted very generously. Amongst the guests were other Graduate Awards achievers from my year and winners from other young chef competitions. It was a great experience which offered the opportunity to catch up with old friends and network with other young chefs whilst eating and drinking great food and wine. Once again, without having taken part in the Graduate Awards I never would never have had that opportunity.

It’s been a busy month for sure and there’s an even busier month ahead but I’ve had some amazing opportunities and am learning so much. I’m looking forward to seeing what the next month brings, even if the thought of the final exam does terrify me! I’m coming to the end of my time in education, soon I’ll be out in the “real world” full time, and that’s when my learning will really begin!