I know that the top chefs in the country - Gordon Ramsay, Heston Blumenthal only went to college doing like a NVQ / BTEC in catering and yet have gone on to become multi-millionaires and run the best restaurants in the country.
I was thinking of how you could incorporate a world class education (as I really appreciate my university education) and being a smart, clever and intelligent person that considers the many aspects of hospitality, restaurants, hotels, tourism etc.
Start by studying a-levels in biology, chemistry, geography and a language like french and show initiative early on and do an EPQ on the history of cooking like Escoffier. You could work 15 hours in a pub or restaurant, washing dishes and chopping up vegetables to gain experience and before becoming responsible for parts of some meals etc, good way to earn money and get a car etc.
Biology is all about life: diseases, anatomy, health.
Chemistry, thinking of nutrients and proteins etc.
Geography would be great for learning about the world - agriculture and climate.
French for when you go to work in Paris.
Sports Science would be good for physiology and how the body works.
You would be busy with 5 a-levels and working in a restaurant but it is do-able, because of your motivation and passion for your goals.
When you have finished school you can go to college and do the advanced chef diploma because of your previous work experience, you should change jobs to a fancier establishment for the year.
Then get an apprenticeship / trainee commis chef job at a high-end restaurant in London like Mayfair and here is where it gets interesting. Apply to university and defer your place for 18 months.
I was looking at UCL B.A.S.c. in Arts and Sciences (their newish liberal arts degree) where they look at the microeconomics of the household (home economics) and european history of art, literature to learning arabic.
or King's College London which has an interesting liberal arts degree where you can continue on with your a-level in french as they have modules on french literature etc.
You could continue working at michelin starred restaurants in Mayfair or Knightsbridge in the evening and now getting paid 20k a year - possibly gruelling but being 21 you could do it.
Now the magic is where you go to Paris for an exchange year and UCL partner with Ecole Normale Superieure and KCL with La Sorbonne so you could do the same and study and work and perhaps not go back to London for your final year and start full-time work and train at the best restaurants in Paris.
Now learning geography and arabic and french will come in to use as you travel the world from Marrakech, Morroco to Medina in Saudi Arabia, learning about cultures and traditions centred around this mainstay of eating and socialising.
Writing and commentating on travel, food, culture, connections with political events and agricultural and development topics of a country.
So to train in the best restaurants in London and Paris and have a CV that say's UCL and ENS, you can imagine this would be something that could lead you to cooking for the royal family in Buckingham Palace for example and going on to winning michelin stars.
To enjoy good food is a level of sophistication, take this menu from Roux at the Landau at the Langham in London:
Artichoke ravioli, barigoule of borlotti beans, nasturtiums, Ticklemore goat’s cheese £20
Sea trout, courgettes, confit tomato, crayfish cannelloni £28
Dover sole grenobloise, herb butter, clams £40
Braised turbot, white asparagus, morels, Jersey Royals £48
Fillet of aged Buccleuch beef, Comté stuffed onion, Bordelaise sauce £42
Roast saddle of Lake District lamb, smoked aubergine, broad beans, feta, harissa £32
Crisp pressed Cotswold White chicken, wet garlic, oyster leaf, mousserons, grelot onions £26
I just like this idea of using university for education and not for something specific, for example at UCL you study modules of:
- Approaches to Knowledge: Introduction to Interdisciplinarity
- Looking, Making and Communicating
- History of Life (a geology / palaeontology module - palaeobiogeography!)
- Essential Protein Structure and Function
- The Psychology of Individual Differences
- Morality and Literature
- Making Sense of the Senses
Being at somewhere like UCL where there is access to the Wellcome library, so much learning and all the London public lectures listening to talks on international relations and the United Nations and understanding it all but being chill about it because you are following your dream of being a world class chef.
After coming back to London from Paris, I would give it a few years and then study for the graduate diploma in Agriculture from the Royal Agricultural College. Learning about crop and livestock production, game and deer management, the wine industry, fresh produce dynamics, organic production.
I think this combining an education to the upper echelons of fine dining would be excellent and I have way too much time on my hands to be thinking about stuff like this! Let alone writing it out for someone to read and enjoy!
Going to university to become a top level chef.