Eric, Professional Cookery, Level 3

Eric studies the Advanced Technical Diploma in Professional Cookery Level 3 and the Advanced Patisserie Level 2 programmes at City of Oxford College. Here’s what he had to say about his experience:

“I’m really enjoying it! It’s been a really nice time all the way along and I expect more good days to come!

“I’m really busy at the moment as I have diploma work and also exams coming on for the diploma and evaluations for desserts in the patisserie course.

“Back in 2016, I decided I needed to have a certificate, or a diploma, regarding my career. I’ve been working for the last 14 years. I started my career as a demi-chef de partie and all the way up to a high level in restaurants in London. I always thought that I needed a certificate to show the things that I was learning, as a form of proof to help my career.

“There are a few great chefs who are self-taught and have their own businesses, but in my professional experience, studying is the way to move forward in a career. It doesn’t matter the age: if you’re 18, 40 or 50, if you are willing to put yourself forward and learn and be capable of working for your future then that’s the right thing to do.

“Because I lived in Oxford when I was younger and I studied Graphic Design at the City of Oxford College, I decided to come here. I knew that the college had an area for hospitality, so I thought, why not? I started sending emails to the college for more information and put myself forward for enrolling. I was applying from abroad, working on my own things at the time and the staff from Activate Learning were very helpful in helping me start here. They sent me information about the procedures for enrolment, whether I could start in February or June, introduced the tutors… and then I came to Oxford. I met the tutors in August and their background in cooking is great. I have a lot of admiration for them. They work really hard to teach not only me, but also a lot of young people. I believe most of the students here will move onto a really high level in the future and I’m really pleased to be studying here.

“I looked into going to Reading College, but as I lived here before and have great memories of my time here and it has a special place for me, I decided to come back to Oxford.

“The thing on the course that has stood out for me so far is really what the tutors are capable of doing. What has been given to us by City & Guilds for the models…I can personally say that the tutors have exceeded expectations. I believe that for a younger chef who wants to get into the industry should choose this college because of the tutors. In terms of my tutor, he has worked not just here but in places in London with a really high reputation. It’s not just where they work though, it’s how they adapt to new situations and how they teach new students. In that regard, they have exceeded my expectations. To students who live in surrounding areas they should really make the effort to come here as it’s worth it.

“Unfortunately, I haven’t done any work experience yet, but I’m willing to do so after my finishing my synoptic practical assessment. Once I’ve done that, I will definitely do some work experience. The college has been very helpful in organising options for work experience. A local company comes into the college to check in on what we are doing regularly, so we have a good relationship with them.

“We had the Executive Chef from The Wolseley Cafe in Bicester who tried our dishes and a joyful day at Billingsgate Fish Market, London, where we had a cook off. Also visiting twice, Absolute Taste gave us huge insights into hospitality and catering.

“After I get my diploma, I want to look for a head chef position. I have been offered some lower-level positions to just prove first that I can run a kitchen, but for now everything is going well in that regard.”