Life at UCB through the eyes of our student bloggers

First year shocks!

First year shocks!

This post is for all you about to start NVQ Level 2 Professional Cookery. NVQ Level 2 is all about gaining basic skills which can then be enhanced upon in Level 3 and degree level as well as industry experience. When I first started, I had plenty of shocks – things I never would have expected and some I wish I’d known about sooner. Here’s some of the best – and the biggest:

  • So firstly, transforming into a chef! Chef whites are a chef’s uniform and armour in the kitchen. I’d never even worn chef whites before having that box arrive from russums. Putting on chef whites for the first time is very weird and like most students, I didn’t even know how to tie a neck tie (our lecturer had to demo in our first class). I found it really weird looking in myself in the mirror. Somehow I looked older; more responsible and professional but also just completely different. Above all I just felt super excited to get started.
  • Knives – my knife set arriving also came as a bit of a shock just before starting my course. Being 16 and in control of that many blades is quite daunting. I didn’t even know what all the knives were for when I first got my knife roll (which, for all those who are unaware, is a bag we chefs use to carry the most essential professional kitchen knives), so I’d suggest learning the difference between a paring, turning, boning and a filleting knife if you want to impress on your first day.
  • Before coming to college I’d also invest in a notebook, as I cannot tell you how much it helps to take notes in lessons. You may think you’re going into a non-academic practical course, but when it comes to doing your written work you’re going to find it a lot easier if you’ve made notes throughout the year. Keeping a neat and organised record of every lesson and writing everything down makes for the best results at the end of it all.
  • Above all, the most useful advice I could possibly give you about this year is to take an absurd amount of photos of everything you make, chop, season, bake or present! For the written work you need photo evidence so I’d suggest from your first dish to your last you take more than enough photos. You never know when you’ll need them.
  • The biggest shock I think I’ve had this year I think is how brave I’ve become. Before starting college I felt physically ill at the thought of having to prepare fish (since I don’t eat them, like the smell and have never prepared them) but I can now happily skin lemon sole or gut a trout with no problem. I even poked out all the eyes of the fish when people in my class were too squeamish to do it!

I couldn’t possibly list all the first year shocks I’ve had so far, but I’ve had a crack at it. Hope you enjoyed!


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