Sunday, 20 May 2007

Mountains And Foothills

It wasn't long after I published my blog under the title "Aidan Brooks: Trainee Chef" that a mate of mine pointed out the little problem I was creating for myself. "But you finish college next Summer", he said, "so you won't be a trainee chef any more. You'll have to change the name of your website".

Now there's a wonderful thought. I complete three years of college training and, hey presto, I become a professional chef overnight. An idea totally consistent with today's reality TV culture - but such a long way from the truth. My time at Westminster Kingsway College has been an experience that will stay with me throughout my life. I consider myself truly privileged to have been accepted as a student at Britain's leading catering college and I've enjoyed every minute of it (well, almost every minute). During my three years at WestKing I've learnt a huge amount intellectually, practically and in terms of my personal development. But it doesn't make me a professional chef. What it makes me is someone qualified to start out on the path to becoming a professional chef. It's a tale of mountains and foothills. If you have a couple of minutes to spare, I'd like to explain what I mean.

Focus, pace and determination gets you to the topNeither my brother Joel or I are into hill climbing, but our mother told us something about it once that affected both of us in the way we approach the world. Liz is an accomplished hill walker who, in her time, walked more or less the entire length of the Pennine Way. When on holiday in Sweden one time, she walked 25 miles to visit a friend who wasn't at home, so she walked the 25 miles back again.

What mum explained was that when a beginner sets out to climb a hill, they see the summit and pace themselves to achieve it. But when they arrive at the top of the hill there's usually a shock in wait, because invariably it's not the peak. Stretching out before the walker is more hillside, with another peak in the distance. At this point, those who had set off at a running pace sometimes collapse. The psychological effect can be worse than the physical. Many walkers - especially the younger ones - take one look at the next section of the climb and turn back.

Professional achievement, like a mountain, does not come easily in one short dash, mum explained. Eventually, after a long journey with many surprises and unexpected twists on the way, there's nowhere to go but down. But even at that moment of ultimate achievement astride the mountain peak, there can be problems. For those who haven't prepared themselves properly for the ultimate experience, it can be as disappointing as the false summits on the journey.

The point of my re-telling mum's story - and I apologise for writing more of a sermon than a food blog post - is that I'm still Aidan Brooks: Trainee Chef. I hope very soon to be able to tell you all about my first professional appointment and I'm incredibly excited about the prospect. If all works out, I'll be working in a kitchen where many trainee chefs of my age would give their right arm for an opportunity to cook. But I'm still tackling the foothills of my professional development and if that means chopping shallots and cleaning out the fridges, that's exactly what I'll do... to the very best of my ability.

In the meantime, even those foothills are on the horizon. I need to put my head down, complete my projects, pass my exams and achieve my diploma, so I'll be posting less frequently in the coming weeks. After that... well, I'll try to continue Aidan Brooks: Trainee Chef as best I can. But you may have to excuse me if my posts are irregular. I've got rather a large mountain to climb.


Julia said...

...and all the best with your journey Trig.

The TriniGourmet said...

you're gonna rock :) you already do! :D

Mae said...

All the best, Trig.

And good luck with your upcoming exams. Stupid question but, is your exam practical? I mean, will you be cooking? Just like they do in masterchef? I know it will be more than masterchef... just curious. :)

lindy said...

Will be following your further exploits with interest, Trig. hope you will tell us about the exams, etc. as well.

Sarah said...

Loads of Good Luck to you

Trig said...

Cheers guys, your support really means a lot to me.

To answer your question Mae: Yes my exams will be just like masterchef, minus the cameras, the celebrities and luxuriously spacious kitchens. I will also have theory exams plus I've had project work all throughout the year.

If all goes well, I'll be publishing sections from my major Gastronomy report on the blog each week, to keep you guys busy while I'm settling down abroad and finding my feet.

Little Foodie said...

My eldest son loves looking at your blog (so do I!), I bought him a chef's outfit at 3, when he declared that he would be a chef. He has never faltered from this and he loves it that you're actually doing it. I would personally prefer him to do something else as I know from relatives who are in the profession, it's a hard business! We wish you well on your journey. Good luck. Amanda

ros said...

Good luck with all of this, Trig. I remember how nerve racking it was in the months leading up to my finals and how I was terrified I wouldn't make it on to the course I'm now taking.

Right now, I'm a little envious of you because you have such a clear idea of what you want to do and how you want to achieve it. Good for you! I sincerely hope things stay that way for you in the years to come.

Trig said...

Little Foodie - the world is changing. One of the first things they say at the catering college interviews is that if you thought this was an alternative to academic studies you are wrong. Yes it's hard, but these days it's no longer the unskilled work it once was. And the rewards at the top are unbelievable, both in terms of money and experience travelling the world. My parents were worried at first about me becoming a chef, but they are very happy now. If your son really wants to be a chef, just steer him to aim high like my parents did with me.

Ros - thanks for that. I still think we'll make a trainee professional chef of you one of these days. You have too much creativity to waste on home cooking. Maybe when I get back to Britain I'll take you on as an apprentice.

ArtfulSub said...

Post your resume online and I'll fix it for you. And perhaps other readers will chime in.

You're a smart lad and I'd hate to see a bad resume prevent you from getting an appropriate position.


Trig said...

Kind of you to offer, ArtfulSub, but my CV seems to do the trick OK, when fronted by a suitable letter of application. I expect to be able to announce my first professional appointment shortly and I don't think it will disappoint.

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