Amy is an active member of our Ambassador Community and sits on our steering panel, helping us to ensure that the programme meets the needs of the young women it aims to serve. She is also a a talented chef and has been studying and working in the catering industry since the pandemic. Amy has had a busy year both personally and professionally. In this blog she reflects on how being part of this community has helped her and tells us a little more about her journey in the catering industry...and the dishes she is most proud of creating! 

My reflections on 2023 as an Ambassador!

I have had some incredible opportunities in past year, and I’m so grateful to have been able to attend so many wonderful events with The Girls' Network. These events are where I am most authentically myself and I cannot express enough gratitude to the amazing people I have met and had the opportunity to work with and am so grateful to be able to call friends. 

I am honestly so lucky to be part of such a supportive and incredible community and I will always feel incredibly privileged to be a part of it.

I was part of an APPG report into the impact of mental ill health in students, I went to City Hall in London to interview Caroline Pidgeon, I attended a International Women’s Day event at No. 10 Downing Street, I went to the House of Lords to interview Baroness Lorely Burt and Baroness Lynn Featherstone, I finished my Specialised Chef Scholarship after completing my Royal Academy of Culinary Arts Exam, and my Level 3 Chef de Partie Apprenticeship qualification. I attended another incredible manifesting and self empowerment event at Mission Works run by Moon Onyx Starr.

I have had so many amazing opportunities this year. I have grown, learnt and developed so much, I have gained new skills, more confidence in myself and I feel like I can be proud of what I have achieved and look forward to what 2024 will bring. 💚💚

Here’s a snapshot of my journey from Apprenticeship to Commis Chef

Back in September 2020, when everything was a bit crazy with cancelled exams and lockdowns. I joined the Specialised Chef Scholarship through the Royal Academy of Culinary Arts course, delivered by Bournemouth and Pool College.

I kicked off my cooking adventure at The Grand in Eastbourne, a work placement that had its challenges but turned out to be super cool.

The first three months were tricky, especially with another lockdown, keeping me away from family until Christmas. But come May 2021, I jumped into the kitchen at The Grand, ready to put my cooking skills to the test.

Starting with The Larder, I got hands-on with making starters, sandwiches, and afternoon tea treats. Prawn, egg, coronation chicken, and salmon sandwiches were on my menu. Believe it or not, I even learned the art of buttering a sandwich without squashing it -important for making food look good!

Here's a funny twist: people eating sandwiches outside risked seagulls snatching their snacks!

Next up was the Mirabelle kitchen, a fine dining restaurant with two rosettes. That's where I'm still working and learning. My apprenticeship involved three months of college and a year of on-the-job training. Exams, both practical and written, and loads of coursework kept me busy.

I snagged Level 2 and 3 Food Hygiene certifications and completed the Level 2 Commis Apprenticeship Standard, a big step up the cooking ladder.  My Level 2 portfolio showed off dishes like Whipped Cream Gateaux and other cool stuff.

At the end of the apprenticeship, I put together a Chef De Partie Portfolio and a Level 3 Portfolio of Professional Patisserie and Confectionery. It was like showcasing all the cool things I learned and made.

Dealing with the Christmas and New Year's Eve rush was crazy! I found my groove in making pastries, especially loving my lemon tart creation. And guess what? I got promoted to Commis Chef, moving up from being an apprentice!

In my Commis Chef portfolio, I whipped up dishes like Steamed Razor Clam, Mackerel Crudo, and Grilled Sea Bream - fancy names for cool dishes I made.

Then, as a Chef de Partie, I came up with Vanilla Panna Cotta, Pork Tenderloin, and Lime and Marscapone Cheesecake - yummy creations that showed off my cooking skills.

Finally, my pastry portfolio featured a show-stopping Croquembouche, White Poppyseed Shaped Rolls, and a fancy dessert called Roule Marquis.

Looking back, dealing with the pandemic and getting used to the long hours were tough. But I learned three big things: it's okay not to get things perfect the first time, managing what people expect is crucial, and making Clementine Sorbet was a blast!

Now, I'm taking a break, and guess what? I passed all my exams and got that Commis Chef title. The journey doesn't stop here - I'm excited for more adventures in the kitchen, cooking up new and tasty things!

A few of Amy's culinary creations:

We are so impressed with what Amy has achieved, especially given the difficult circumstances she faced at the start of her journey with lock-downs and other Covid restrictions. She is clearly becoming a very talented chef and we are so pleased that she remains part of community, helping to inspire other girls and young women. Big thanks to Amy for this brilliant, interesting and funny blog piece!