Dan Edwards decided to study the Level 2 Professional Chef’s Diploma at Banbury and Bicester College, part of Activate Learning, when some of his friends recommended this course to him.
Dan had originally completed his A-levels, because he wanted to study film and get into a career in film production. However, Dan knew that the film industry was notoriously difficult to break into, and decided to concentrate in his other passion: cooking.
Although young, Dan had already experience in the catering industry. He had been a manager at a butcher’s shop for four years, having started there with a Saturday job which then led on to an apprenticeship: ‘I learnt how to cook all pieces of meat. That only inspired me to want to learn more.’
The Level 2 course has given Dan the opportunity to learn new skills, such as cooking different dishes, and it helped boost his confidence by taking part in industry competitions: ‘I learnt how to make different mother sauces and what they can be turned into, for example, soups or stocks. Because I was a little older than other students, I found they would ask me questions and I would take on more of a leadership role. We all worked as a team and the atmosphere was great.’
‘When I finish my Level 2, I want to continue studying at Level 3. This will help me develop a more in depth understanding of how the different dishes are put together. Then I would like to carry on working in the pub where I got work experience. ‘
‘Being at Banbury and Bicester College has helped give me the skills I need to develop my career. College is more hands on and different to secondary school. I have met new people, made friends and contacts, gained skills and, when I complete my Level 3 qualification, it will be more likely that I get a job.’
‘As part of the catering programme, students are asked to find a work experience opportunity. Help is available for anyone struggling to find a work experience placement, through existing contacts of college staff. I went in to the Fox at Farthingdon, spoke to the Head Chef and took part in work experience for a few weeks. I helped cook, doing desserts and garnishes. I was able to pick things up quickly. I also did some work experience at its sister pub, the Crewe Arms, which is owned by the same person. I have some part-time work organised in there now, which means I already have my foot in the door for after college. They are more likely to employ me full-time in the future.’