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Food Services & Catering

Julia Jewers - The Times Top 50 Employers for Women blog

As a catering assistant you operate the tills, help with basic prep and serve the food. The unit was run by a different catering company then, and when we transferred over to Sodexo things changed…

I liked the way they offered training and opportunities to move forward. When the chance came last year for a commis chef apprenticeship, I thought it would be silly not to try and progress. I love to cook at home, so why not make a career out of it?

Sodexo partners with HIT Training, a specialist training provider in the hospitality industry, and enrolled me onto the apprenticeship. I get to go out on supplier visits to learn about fresh produce, and attend a chef academy workshop every month, which teaches knife skills, prepping and cooking, nutritional needs and more. They give you a great insight and cover all the criteria you need for your recipe logs - a major part of the course - and count towards your final exam. That’s really important as if someone is interested in an apprenticeship but they don’t do any cooking in their contract, they can still train to become a chef.

I learn so much cooking every day at the school. My head chef will often say to me: ‘Today, you’re making this. I’m going to show you how, then it’s over to you.” I love that kind of challenge; I thrive on it.

I’ve been cooking for 10 months now. It’s giving me all sorts of great experience as there are three of us - a head chef, sous chef and myself - and we’re cooking for 1,000 pupils, teachers and staff.

I often create vegetarian main dishes and I’ve discovered a new love for pastry. I’m a creative cook and love the intricacy of making something look pretty.

Recently I worked on a hospitality event and was asked to come up new ideas for canapés. That kind of faith and encouragement comes from everyone, and there are some great role models here. My head chef Rachel has travelled and cooked all over the world and she’s an inspiration to me. Our food development director Tom Allen has been a huge supporter too - he’s visited the school, bought chef’s knives for me and just put my name out there.

Last month I reached the last 36 in a national competition, Nestle Professional Toque d’Or. Sadly I didn’t make the final six but I was so pleased with how I did. It was out of my comfort zone, and I wouldn’t have done it without Tom’s belief and confidence in me. I’m definitely up for more competitions and I’ve already said I’ll be entering Salon Culinaire this year. I just need to decide which category!

Sodexo has given me that first step and it’s 100% my goal to progress further to a sous chef role, and who knows, maybe even a head chef.

At Sodexo we are committed to the importance of promoting equal opportunities, valuing diversity and creating an inclusive working environment for all our employees. Find out more about a career with us.

May 10, 2019

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