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"Jessica has spoken of wanting to be a chef for a long time" - young person's chef experience at Warwick

Nick Barker, Schools Outreach Fellow in Residence reflects on creating an opportunity for a young person to get experience as a chef in one of Warwick's commercial kitchens:

"I am based in a primary school serving an area where, historically, most young people do not progress to further or higher education. I have known Jessica since she was 9 years old and although now studying her GCSE's, she comes back to her old primary school every week; we do maths and talk about school and careers.

Jessica has spoken of wanting to be a chef for a long time. I asked Chris Hunt (Commercial Director) if she could visit a professional kitchen at Warwick and get a sense of what that work would be like. With Clive Singleton (Head of Conferences and Event Catering) this was made possible. Jessica clearly loved her visit and everyone she met at Warwick was extremely encouraging.

It is very helpful to remember that Warwick is a big employer. Universities can support and train young people in many different ways."

Read more about Jessica's experience below:

As part of Warwick’s schools outreach work, cooking enthusiast Jessica was invited to spend a day with our brilliant Conferences team.

Jessica met with Radcliffe chefs to find out what their own culinary journeys have been, learn about food prep and safety, and discover just how much effort goes into a busy lunch service.

She even had chance to help create some of Warwick Conferences’ much-loved cakes!

Image of Jessica smiling in front of iced cake

Charlotte from the Internal Comms team caught up with Jessica to find out more about her experience.

Charlotte: Jessica, we’ve loved having you on campus today. What was your favourite part of the day?

Jessica: My favourite part was trying new things, like using a piping bag to decorate the cakes. I enjoyed experiencing what it would be like if I ever did become a chef one day.

Image of Jessica looking at information in a University kitchen

Charlotte: When did you first get interested in cooking?

Jessica: It was in Year 6, during the Covid lockdown. I did a lot of cooking then, because there wasn’t much else to do, and I realised I liked it. I had a cookbook with a recipe for spiced nuts in it – they were quite nice.

Charlotte: I wish we’d known – you could have brought some along for us today!

Image of the ornate decorative cakes Jessica worked on

Charlotte: Has anything surprised you about your experience at Warwick?

Jessica: I was surprised by how much I had to make, for lots of people!*

Charlotte: But you’re up for the challenge?

Jessica: Yes!

*Internal Comms fact-check: Radcliffe has 154 bedrooms, 42 meeting rooms, and a 252-person capacity restaurant - that means lunchtimes are never quiet!

Image of Jessica using a piping bag on a chocolate cake

Charlotte: Favourite food - for all three meals of the day?

Jessica: That’s hard. Probably a McDonald’s sausage and egg McMuffin for breakfast. But if not, pancakes at home. For lunch, I’d have noodles. And for tea, probably a ham and pineapple pizza.

Charlotte: I was just about to ask you the age-old question of whether you’re a fan of pineapple on pizza, but you’ve answered it for me! Thank you for talking with me, Jessica. I hope you’ve really enjoyed your day at Warwick.