The work experience portion of pastry school took place during our two months. I’m a little belated in updating this, as some of my work experience goals were interwoven and extended over the past few months with some European travel.
Here goes with a (very) belated update on the the various things I’ve gotten up to over the past few months.
Our official work experience from school began after the conclusion of Week 39. I knew that we’d have eight weeks solely dedicated to work experience at the end of the course, but I wanted to get a jump start and began work experience a few weeks after starting pastry school and continued for a few months at sushisamba/Duck & Waffle, and then continued with some work experience at William Curley during the beginning of this year.
Royal Ascot: Work Experience
Even though we were still in the middle of our projects, I started my ‘official’ work experience a bit early with a few days at the Royal Ascot at the end of week 37.
In my previous (professional) life, one of the agency accounts I worked on was the Breeders’ Cup, which cultivated my love of horse racing. Prior to that, I dabbled in the sport by way of Friday Night Racing at Hollywood Park, which came with $1 beers and hotdogs (the main reason for my initial attendance…RIP Hollywood Park…tear).
I thought it would be fascinating to see a large-scale horse racing event from the hospitality and catering side of the operation since I’d worked on it in production and outreach capacities. Being in London, the Royal Ascot seemed like the perfect event for this, and the one I was most looking forward to gaining event catering work experience.
Had I realized just how large-scale, I might’ve been too nervous to reach out, but ignorance is bliss. My teacher linked me up with Sodexo who run the Royal Ascot catering. When I arrive on Thursday, Malcolm, Executive Chef for Sodexo Prestige Venues and Events, gave me a tour of the facilities and an overview and history of the event as we went around. Malcolm told me he was putting me in one of the fine dining kitchens with two-Michelin-starred chef Michael Caines MBE.
When I first stepped into the kitchen, it felt a little scary and overwhelming at first (especially when I realized I wasn’t in a pastry section like in my production kitchen work experience!), but it ended up being such a great two days! I got to experience two different styles of event service, one run as a private event and one more like a restaurant service.
Royal Ascot was a great way to kick off work experience, build up my confidence in the kitchen and it was a fantastic experience working for a chef as talented and accomplished as Michael Caines.
Another thing I learned as Ascot was the horses run backwards here. I realize they operate a car and drive on the opposite side, but the horses run clockwise. I placed one bet during my two days and watching the horses come in like that blew my mind as I was searching for my horse to break to the front victorious (it did not).
Sorted Food: Work Experience
Through a friend of a friend (actually a good friend I met in a 40 person dorm in Thailand) I was introduced to the guys at Sorted Food. They have an awesome YouTube cooking channel and had just finished up a tour across the US called #lostandhungry.
I met up with Ben and we brainstormed a lot of various ideas in which we could collaborate. During the past couple months, we’ve tested out a couple of recipes in the kitchen and I’ve done some guest blogging for them on travel and pastries. It’s been fascinating getting to see the behind the scenes production of such a successful YouTube channel.
Here’s my Grilled profile for their blog, along with a sample of some of the things I’ve written for them:
Aside from their YouTube channel and the blog, Sorted Food have created a global community where people can share and find recipes and connect with foodie friends around the world. Sign up! 🙂
*Shout out to the rest of the Sorted team not pictured here, especially James who I’ve worked with the most! 🙂
Food Photography & Styling: Work Experience
In August, I had the opportunity to work a Hartley’s Jelly photo shoot as the food stylist assistant which was a really exciting experience. We created all of the jelly recipes for the upcoming seasonal campaigns. It was my first true experience working alongside a food stylist and I loved it.
This past month, I was able to help out on another photo shoot with the chef/food writer/blogger behind Rocket & Squash. Ed was on the Westminster Kingsway College International Culinary Diploma course about five years ago when the program was first started.
He is featured as the Independent guest food writer for the month of November, the first of which ran this past Sunday. I got the opportunity to assist him and former chef/food photographer Joe Woodhouse on the shoot where all of the recipes were prepared and photographed.
Pastries Around the World
One of the other things I was fortunate enough to be able to do this summer during pastry school work experience (with the blessing of both teachers) was plan a few trips around Europe for a bit of gastronomic and pastry exploration. I loved our Italian gastronomy project so much and this was the beginning of an extension of that research. There is a lot more writing to come about those trips!
The first was a weekend trip to visit Paris where my dad and stepmom were spending the month of June. I went on a very indulgent pastry tour of the city. For research, right?! 😉
Some of my girlfriends from Los Angeles came over to Europe and invited me to join them for an epic road trip around Iceland. Lindsay and Rochelle helped me research the Icelandic rye bread baked using geothermic heat (which I tried to re-create in London). It was such an amazing five day trip where we got to see and eat so many great things, except the elusive puffin (**see the puffins, not eat them!).
The third trip of the summer was to Spain to visit some friends and explore the Spanish pastries. The highlight of the Spanish pastries were churros and chocolate. Yum! This was a very fun recipe to recreate a home.
In September, I met up with another friend in Greece for a mixture of island hopping and Greek pastry research. Highlights included an Athens food tour with a chef, Greek salads for every meal, allllll of the cheese, and some pretty spectacular scenery. A lot more to come on Greece! 🙂
The final trip of the year was a family vacation to Italy. The perfect ending to my 2015 pastry exploration, since the whole thing started here on my class trip back in April. My mom came over to London early before my graduation and wanted to include Italy as a stop on her first trip to Europe. She and I were able to have a week of mother/daughter travels, before meeting up with my stepdad, brother and sister-in-law in Naples to spend a few nights in Capri and Positano.
Prior to the Amalfi Coast, my mom and I got to explore Cinque Terre, Florence and Rome. So much more to come on the Italian travels, but it was so special to be able to explore more and show my mom around one of my favorite European countries, and have a wonderful family holiday on the Amalfi Coast, one of the dreamiest places on Earth.
We also successfully accomplished our goals of eating our weight in pasta, gelato and mozzarella! 😉