Friday, 29 December 2017

Finished in Belfast

Ham Hock , Pickled Veg , Apple , Sourdough
Thornhill Duck Breast , Winter Fruits , Roast Root , Blackberry Jus
So I have recently finished up my placement in Belfast and beginning to start working again back home and also planning and preparing for my move to Miami in march .I have had my placement visit and I am getting around to finishing off the last bit of my project which is needed to obtain a pass which to be honest I’d rather work for another six months and not have to write it but I don’t think that is going to happen anytime soon. Overall I found the experience great and exiting, obviously it had its ups and downs but it has now come to an end.

I feel as though I have achieved the aims which where set out for the module and in some cases supposed them.  It was a great experience for me to work full time in the kitchen because being a full time college student five days a week I find you cannot really get the hands on experience you would get while in the kitchen. I know most of the student work full time over the summer holidays and part time during the college year but it doesn’t compare to working five to six sometimes even seven weeks, week in week out.

Herb Crusted Halibut, Salt Baked Carrot,  Figs , Beets

I can take a lot away from my time at the Culloden estate and spa. I’ve made friends and meet interesting and new people with different outlooks on food and theories on what good food should be and how it should be presented to the customer. I have also learned a lot more about gins whiskeys and wine because of the time I spent with house sommeliers and front of house personnel which I have done courses with over my time spent in the hotel which comes in handy when selecting wines for menus which needed to be written and planned before I left the hotel to return home.

Pithvier of Smoked Duck , Pomme Puree , Onion , Carrot& Orange

While I was at the hotel there were days during November that were very quiet like ever restaurant before Christmas which were the days where I done a lot of experimenting and tried out new thing for the upcoming menu. A lot of research went it making unmeltable sorbets that could be light on fire and remain cold on the inside and hot where the flame was just light. This idea came about after I watched a documentary on Heston Blumenthal were he made a dish to resemble his grandads sitting room around Christmas were the fire was lighting and his granddad sat in his leather arm chair drinking whiskey and smoking a cigar.
Lobster, Sweetcorn, Fennel, Shellfish Custard Tart

Although I had Heston’s recipe I didn’t want my sorbet to resemble his so I had to tweak and find through trial and error a balance so that the sorbet still held after being light on fire but at the same time have a balance of ice crystallises to a smoothness which all sorbet should have. The recipe which I came up with was for an unmeltable Christmas pudding sorbet great around Christmas time.
Nicholas Murphy 
Culloden Estate & Spa
Mitre Resturant
Heston's Blumenthal The Fat Duck Cookbook

Thursday, 30 November 2017

Eating out, Staging and Hard grafting in the kitchen!

Jeruselum Artichoke & King Oyster
Chocolate & Cherries
One factor that made me choose Cambridge over any other city was the fact that it is on London's doorstep while still having low renting & living costs. With London being so close I always had the idea of staging on my mind. The question was; where? I have many friends working in some nice spots such as the Dorchestor, Core, the Royal Society, Tonic etc but I chose to stage with Dave Pigrim at the Royal Society. The kitchen is based in Carlton terrace which is about 3 minutes from Buckingham Palace and as you can imagine everything is very grand in the area.

Apple Martini
The kitchen itself is quite small, mostly because it's space has been taken up by the most amazing equipment you could imagine from 3 pacojets to an uncountable amiunt of thermomix's to even a plate jockey! I was in heaven on this stage. When Dave showed me around the whole building I was amazed by the sheer size of the place and how nice some of the rooms were such as the marble room, as you can imagine is all made of marble. He told me that the rent for one quater is £925,000! Although money is no problem for them they do recieve a 70% discount as they're a charity.

Midsummer House - A 2*
restaurant is in this tiny
house with a conservatory!
While on our placement I celebrated my birthday and as every year Willy, the Jr Sous, and I go for dinner together on our birthdays. We always pick nice places such as Eleven Madison Park, Patrick Guilbauds, Simpsons and added to the list this year was Midsummer House, convieniently located in cambridge about 5 minutes from where I live. Midsummer House is a 2* 5 rosette restaurant owned and run by Daniel clifford. Mark Poynton, chef patron of Aliemtum, was head chef in midsummer for 9 years before opening Alimentum and won their second star. Our current restaurant director Mathew Courtin was also assistant director in Midsummer house, along with my current Head Chef also worked there for 2 years. So with all these connections we knew we would be looked after!

We arrived and before we even mentioned our names Monsieur Imbert was asking us how thungs were at Alimentum and what we would like to drink. What amazed me most was how he knew who we were and where we worked even before i mentioned my name, maybe its obvious that two young guys coming to eat at a 2* are from the industry and thats how he knew but to me it was the most amazing customer service! We went upstairs to what they call the sitting room and relaxed with their suggestion of whiskey, an interesting swedish Hven whiskey.
Then we went to the table, right next to the kitchen with a view into it through a window.  We were blown away by the arrival of the next 13 courses.

To finish off the evening, along with a bill that seemed to cheap to be true, we were offered a kitchen tour, meeting Daniel clifford and Mark Abbot and being showed all around the house was an amazing experience making it maybe just the best birthday so far...

The Team
It was back to the grind in Alimentum after these nice few days out. I have changed sections from pastry, thankfully. Working now on larder and the odd day on sauce, I quite enjoy it. We're a team that's more like a family, the way every restaurant should be,
One Big Family.

Luke McLeod
Cambridge, U.K.

Tuesday, 28 November 2017

London, The city that never sleeps

When I first came to London I knew that I would be working night shifts, I wasn't exactly sure what this would entail but I knew it's would only be for a month, at this stage I was just happy to finally have placement sorted. So when I started to work in the Beaumont, I found out that I would be working with viennoiserie,
 made in house
so this included: croissants, pain au chocolat, pain aux raisins and so much more. This type of work was never something I saw myself doing, but the more time I spent working, the more I started to love this type of work. It's a very specific process.

 We make the same products give or take, every day. It is something that you think would become boring or tedious, however it actually allows you to master the craft. From making sure you can mix the dough, to your turns being all straight
and in line, which you can see from the picture makes the layers look more defined, that your speed is picking up each time you do it, to then moving onto the machine that you need to roll all your pastry on,then, of course the shaping of the viennoiserie and, to finally the baking
process and when it gets to the point of baking. Everything that I was taught from the beginning all started to make complete sense to me, for example, Why your turns have to be even and why it is important for the dough to sit and rest for as long as it does. Working in the Beaumont Hotel has given me an experience that I can say that I am fortunate enough to receive and will never forget.

-Hope Cuddihy

Monday, 27 November 2017

The Stuggles.

As you all might know, moving to a different country is not easy. Especially if you have no connections with anyone at all. Well, this was my situation a few months ago and let me tell you, it was tough. Looking for a place to stay was the most challenging part.

London is a big city!

Tube on a rush hour!
Before d-day, I have searched a lot of rental sites online for a place to stay. I have sent countless emails asking landlords for 6 month contracts as yearly contracts were more in the market. The expense is in a whole new level. Although I was expecting a very high rent but it is way more expensive that what I initially thought it would be. I had choices of choosing for places in Zones 2-6 which is further from work and city, which also was a cheaper option. But travelling more than one hour to and from work is a big no-no for me. Especially on busy times which can get really crowded, where you'll end up being sweaty even if it is freezing cold outside. Although London's transport systems are A+'s. It is amazing.

Anyways choosing this option meant expensive rent and expensive everything.
Days passed and I only received a handful replies compared to the number of emails I sent. Most of them were open to signing a 6 month contract which I was thrilled about. However, these findings pulled through as they were asking me to sign the contract straight away through email. I was not to keen about this idea as I would have liked to see the place first.

As the day came nearer, I was left with no choice but to fly over without a permanent place to stay. Thankfully Sharon started her internship earlier than me and has already found a place to live. I stayed at her place for a few days. During those days I have viewed a couple of apartments nearby which I have contacted beforehand. A lot of those places also fell through as they've already been rented by people earlier than me.
Finally, after 3 days of being in the city I finally signed a contract in a place. Although I was not too happy about it for the price I was paying.I was on the fifth floor with no lift. Yes! that meant going up and down the stairs at least 2 times a day. But I had no choice because that was their last room available and my cutting off point of what I can afford. I mean, going up to thousands per month was not in my option.

View from my room.

Few months later, three of us in the same class are renting a newly refurbished apartment together. It is in a great location as we only travel twenty minutes in the bus to work. And let me add, the view from here is amazing. Although aside from that, we are dealing with a lot of problems with this one like the continuous drilling everyday, children running around upstairs late at night, and our landlord which is a completely different story.

If I get a chance to do this again, I would've chosen to live further away for cheaper rent prices (I mean more than half of what we're paying right now!). It seems like travelling more than one hour to and from work is considered a norm here. Mostly everyone from work lives far from here which I am very impressed about. I don't know if I can stay in a bus that long two times a day. Maybe next time I'll give it a try.

All I can say is that this is a new and challenging great experience for me, which I am having fun with and will never forget!

BACA student,

Marcia Lechoco.

Saturday, 25 November 2017


London was an easy choice for me to pick to carry out my work placement as I have a lot of family and friends here that would help me to settle into the busy lifestyle that it entails. London is home to nearly 9 million people which can give you an insight to just how busy it is. As I have been to London on many occasions previously, the hustle and bustle of it all didn't come as much of a shock.

Before I moved over, I did a lot of research into how much rent and travel would cost ( it is expensive but so worth it). I opted to rent a room in shared accommodation just behind Oxford Street which was just a 3 minute walk from where I was going to work. The rent was pretty expensive but I was saving on the expense and stress of traveling on the tube/bus everyday. Plus Oxford Street, the busiest street in London, was on my doorstep! All the restaurants and clothes shops stay open until 10pm around that area so even going out for a walk to explore was always a safe option and always gave me something to do when I finished work.

I moved over in June which was a perfect time as there were always some sort of festivals and attractions going on within walking distance. The weather over here in the summer is also another reason to entice you to do work placement here as it reached from 22 degrees to over 32 degrees in the peak summer months. During that time, I'd meet up with friends/family for a picnic and few drinks in the famous Hyde Park which was just down the road from where I lived. Hyde Park is famous for it's summer festivals which is based around concerts and pop up food stalls and bars. The first mini festival I went to was with a friend. It was a cake bake off in one of the many parks around. It was free to enter and they were giving out free prosecco and beer which was an added bonus! The theme was 'World Famous Buildings'.

London itself is quite an expanding city in terms of gastronomy. Central London can accommodate for whatever food trend is happening right now. Lebanese and Peruvian restaurants are probably among the most popular over here. Food stalls are all over the place too so I'd recommend giving those a try. There are some exquisite patisseries around the high streets too to give some inspiration to those of you who are considering doing Pastry in 4th year. The Borough Market is also a must as it thrives with inspirational entrepreneurs who are just as much foodies as we are.

Sharon Doyle.

Wednesday, 15 November 2017

Making the most of your days off!

Working in a busy kitchen means early starts, late finishes and long weeks. So when it comes to having days off you try and make the most of it and go explore the country you are staying in. However, day one is normally spent sleeping in, getting up late and having a chill day with Netflix and you then promise yourself tomorrow you will do something exciting. But overall, there's only so much exploring of the one city you can do on your days off. So I decided to travel a little further and headed to Glasgow. Living in a big city means transport is super easy and really cheap. Glasgow is only 40 minutes on a train and costs £20 for a return ticket from Edinburgh. Travelling to another city is exciting and when you have visitors from home over makes it even better. Although Edinburgh is a gorgeous city and there is plenty to see its nice to go elsewhere and travel around. Glasgow is great for shopping and I will definitely be heading back up before Christmas.  Other than the shopping and the pretty streets Glasgow does not have that much else to offer, it's not a great tourist place and there isn't that much to see, unless your a big shopper then definitely go and visit!
I spent two days in Glasgow whereas one full day would have been enough (including shopping time of course).

 With Christmas time closing in I know all cities will have lots more fun things to offer as the Christmas markets open and all the winter activities come into play. From November 19th Edinburgh's ChristmaMarketsts are fully open and the city is already looking like a winter wonderland with all the pretty lights and so many activities to keep one entertained. Living in Edinburgh there is always so much to do, whether it's taking a walk through the meadows or walking up to the castle and seeing the views of the city or going out with friends for a nice meal and a few drinks. Edinburgh really is a great city and I will miss it when I move home. To any students that are unsure of where to go for their placement I would highly recommend traveling to Edinburgh for work placement. Its close to home so its cheap for friends and family to come and visit you. There is so much to do and it is a big college city so there are plenty students around to make you feel just at home. there are lots of sights to go and see throughout your time here and its a city that never fails to surprise you!
Image result for edinburgh castle
By Emma O'Neill

Thursday, 9 November 2017

Life in Edinburgh and “Forage and chatter”.

It has been a long road getting here. I like many others in my course have been all over the world deciding where to spend their 12 weeks of placement. Factors such as style of restaurant, location, how far away from home do you want to be, what experiences you want all come into the question when making this big decision. I myself at first wanted to lean towards a more health/café type of establishment but last minute decided to go for a more upper class fine dining experience that I knew would give me plenty of experience and turns out I was right I am learning loads and although the hours are very crazy I am still managing to enjoy it.
After all my stressing during the summer on where to go and applying for endless of jobs it turns out there was absolutely no need. By the end of the summer I was receiving endless emails and calls back from employers and laughing at how I had zero reason to be panicked. So just keep an open mind and if you have your eyes set on a city or place stick too it!

Anyways after all that I ended up in Edinburgh where there is plenty of jobs. The city is always crazy busy, it is also a very popular tourist destination with lots to see on days off, great shops, cafes and events throughout the year especially around now for Halloween and Christmas.

I found “Forage and Chatter” on trip advisor as it was one of the most top rated and is now currently number one on TripAdvisor for best lunch spots in Edinburgh.
 I am very much obsessed with the interior of the restaurant. Mushrooms are a big theme that flows through forage and chatter from the logo to the food. The restaurant prides itself in locally sourced food and anything that can be foraged is foraged. The menu changes according to what’s plentiful and in season.
I am the pastry chef in our very small kitchen and I am loving the independence and control over my section which allows me to be creative and has thought me so much in terms of organisation and planning as it is completely my problem if orders are not placed or enough of a component isn’t ready to go.
So far the experience is shaping me both as a person and a chef as I have had to adjust to a new life living independently in a city which is a big change from a farm in Co. Laois as well as learning new things in and out of the kitchen which I can now see will definitely stand to life after college.

By Àine Dempsey

Why I Chose Hula.

After a long process of trying to get a visa and enough money together to move to Canada it all just fell apart. I chose to move to Edinburgh as I knew the process would be easier and cheaper, it was neither moving to any new country is an expensive and lengthy process. When researching Edinburgh I had an idea set in my mind of what I wanted. For a long time now I have known that my direction in the industry of being a chef was changing, no longer was I thinking in the short term but now thinking what do I want to do in the long term. Doing the BA Hon culinary arts course has opened my eyes to just how many doors are open to me and the rest of my class mates.
When choosing where to work in Edinburgh I knew I wanted something I has never done before, something New.... something Fresh....something in Trend. For awhile now I've known that I want to eventually own my own business. Healthy sustainable cooking and farm to fork foods are all something that I have a great passion for and an sector in the industry that I feel is very much in trend at the moment.

I applied to lots of well known healthy food eateries in Edinburgh, Susan Doherty a fellow Irish woman and the owner of Hula Juice bar Edinburgh replied to me quickly saying she was very interested in my CV and wanted me to do a trial as soon as. I flew to Edinburgh on the 28th of August 2017 I did a trial in Hula the next day and was given the job that day. Hula is a well known eatery open for 11 years so I knew I would learn a lot about how to run a successful business from working there. I was given so much responsibility, within the first month of working there I was opening the cafe and doing most kitchen produce and equipment orders. Space is limited in the establishment therefore produce orders are done as mush as twice daily which means the produce is very fresh and always of good quality. Working in the busy Grassmarket area of Edinburgh has been a whole new pace for me with people wanting healthy lunches quick on the go. The cafe opens at 8.00am for breakfast and closes at 6.00pm not the usual times I am used to working but I am enjoying having the evening free after work. The manager has allowed me to be trained in on all sections in the cafe so I get an overall feel for what the business needs. I enjoy working on the juice section making super juices, smoothies and health boosters but my main priority is the kitchen food, I have never seen so much Avocado eaten as I do in Hula. The food in hula ranges from Super smoothie bowls (Acai bowls) to healthy poke salad dishes, lets just say Hula is very instagram friendly with many bloggers and instagrammers posting daily . Hula is also very vegan, vegetarian and intolerance friendly, all foods are available in Gluten free options and all take away packaging is compostable (Vegware).  The team in Hula are very much a family and I have been settling in nicely. My first week in Hula the whole team went go karting which was so much fun and really helped in the bonding process with the team.

The moral of this blog is don't be afraid to go in a different direction and don't be afraid to choose something different when looking for placement there are so many options open out there. I am beyond enjoying myself over here and I hope all my classmates are enjoying themselves as much!!

Sarah Kehoe

Reap The Rewards

Eipic's Tasting Menu 
So I am nearly finished my placement at the Culloden now three months is the required time that each student has to do as part of our course, however I agreed to do six months work as I taught it would benefit me more which it has in the long run .I would recommend any student who has to go abroad for work experience to do the six months. The six month period I feel it gives the student a better understanding of how a kitchen is ran and also gives the student more time to learn on the job which I think I key to become a great chef. The six months also gives your head chef time to pass some of the responsibly of running a kitchen to the student so they experience the paperwork side of the business which also will stand to you in the long term.
Lobster,Chicken Skin ,Sweetcorn,Sea Veg

Durning my time here I have been kept busy whether its cooking for celebs in the Mitre to photoshoot with various magazines it’s been an enjoyable and testing time. Before coming to the Culloden I’ve worked in various restaurants, hotels and bars cooking food that was good honest food but nothing spectacular. It’s not what I want for my career I wanted to work in fine dining /Michelin star restaurants .So when the chance to work in Belfast in a fine dining restaurant that was Michelin recommended I jumped at the chance. Not just because of the hotels name but because Belfast has such a selection of very good restaurants  boasting two one star Michelin restaurants Ox and Eipic ,that I might just want to work for after I finish college which lucky for me are fifteen minutes train journey away from the hotel. Thankfully I got the opportunity to dine in Eipic in August ,where I meet and spoke to Chef Patron Michael Deane about the chances of working in Eipic or even getting a stage in the near future .

Behind the scenes with Shane Smith
Since I've been away from home by  myself I have a lot of time to think and reflect on food and new food ideas .I find myself reading a lot more on food and restaurants all over the world for me this has been something I will look back on and be glad that I spent so much time by myself as I had a chance to enter and win one of YesChef Ireland competitions which I taught at the time was a bit of fun and didn't expect to win let alone be asked to write an article on young chefs in Ireland to be published in the next issue of the magazine .To be honest I still think its a big idea and even when Shane Smith who is owner , publisher and photographer of the magazine said the picture he took of my dish was lovely I laughed it off and said its all in the photography. Getting to work with Shane and see how to photograph food and what happens behind the scenes of theses foodporn photos was a great experience and I learned a lot from that which I will take back with me as we are doing a module on food media in our final year so I'm sure that a small bit of knowledge will help fingers crossed .
My Dish featured in YesChef Ireland
Textures of Beetroot and Goats Cheese

    By Nicholas Murphy
    @The Mitre Resturant 
    Belfast , Northern Ireland 

Wednesday, 8 November 2017

A Taste of Belfast

Path to Cultra 

Original Palace still intact 
 I started working in Northern Ireland in the Culloden hotel in Belfast back in June and have been flat out working even since. Most weeks comprise of 6 day weeks like all chefs or anyone within the hospitality industry this is mainly down to the shortage of staff/chefs at the moment in Ireland so it is something you just have to suck up and get on with or maybe a change of career choice.

View for Bedroom window

The Culloden is a five star hotel being named Ireland’s luxury hotel of the year 2017 and The Mitre resturant obtaining a Michelin recommended status in the same year so getting to be part of the team is an award in itself. The Culloden Estate and Spa to give it its full name caters for a lot of people in the scence that on offer the have the Cultra Inn; which is located on the grounds outside the hotel which caters for locals with pub grub and other small light bites, they have their fine dining restaurant The Mitre which fortunately for me is where I’m based is ran by top Northern Irish chef Paul McKnight. With breath taking views across Belfast Lough, it serves modern Irish Cuisine using only the finest and freshest local ingredients. Also they have the Crozier lounge which offers bar food for the residents within the hotel and also its various function rooms.

Herb Garden
 The hotel itself sits on top of the Holywood Hills, overlooking Belfast Lough and the County Antrim Coastline. Originally built as an official Palace for the Bishops of Down, the Culloden stands in 12 acres of beautiful secluded gardens and woodland including its own herb and vegetable garden which as a young is great to work with such fresh and ready available ingredients. In the Mitre there are only two chefs myself and another chef de partie (now you can see what I mean by understaffed) we are also in charge of the Crozier lounge food and we give a hand to functions as well if we have the time. Week days we usually do thirty people in the restaurant and from Friday we do approximately fifty plus a night not bad going for two twenty year olds.

Foraging on Holywood Beach 

While working in The Culloden I am also living within the hotel itself which has its ups and downs although when making the decision to work for the organisation I taught that it would be a wonderful experience to live in a place you worked, but now that I’ve done that for a while reality sets in and you realise it an get a bit overwhelming and relative most days being eat ,sleep, work and repeat. However on the bright side you have twenty four hour access to the kitchen and the ingredients within the vicinity so when its quiet you an experiment and create new sample dishes which is important for me to keep my mind occupied and thinking about food constantly. Since I’ve started I’ve been engrossed into food culture and where it comes from  with trips  foraging on Holywood beach which is fifteen minutes’ walk from the hotel to sourcing the best local ingredients on my day off  .

By Nicholas Murphy
@ The Mitre Restaurant 
Northern Ireland 

Tuesday, 7 November 2017

Settling Into Belfast

Sadly my work permit to head to Canada didn't work out so I had to make my way to Northern Ireland. Luckily the Fairmont Banff Springs offered for me to come back anytime so I might head over there this summer 2018. Meanwhile I have been in Belfast a week and wow what a city! Really looking forward to Christmas here. I am working in The Culloden Estate and Spa. I have just enough time to get my minimum of 12 weeks done. Definitely playing catch up though I did 65 hours over 5 days. The first day killed me but I caught on very rapidly (had no choice really). The experience is good. It was hard going from being a part time chef to a full time chef. Now I am more than used to it. After 2 days it became quite normal. The people are lovely but I am still very much alone. Eventually I will meet new people and make new friends it's only been a week so I just need to give it time. I did feel very overwhelmed the first few days as I have never been away from home as I am actually from Waterford so never even moved for college. Between going from a kitchen the size of a shoe box in my last job to a massive kitchen, different accents and slang words. Having to open a bank account, do my washing, feed myself, bathe, trying to get enough sleep and work crazy hours. It has been great though for me. I'm maturing and have a lot more responsibility which can only be good for me in the long run! The head chef is lovely and I am definitely learning some new techniques and culinary terms. On my first day I was only in the kitchen 5 minutes and learned what a rocher was. It's a quenelle using only one hand. I look forward to having some free time to dine in some of the amazing restaurants up here and explore the city. Looking forward to what is to come over the next 11 weeks!!! by Beth Murphy.

Friday, 3 November 2017

overcoming challenges

The Mourne Country Hotel Newry is located on Belfast Road in County Down. I t has a medium sized kitchen with only three chefs I was the fourth. The business turnover is very low which was a little challenging in terms of learning. How much you can learn was limited depending on the head turnovers. Having said that the whole staff from housekeeping, managers, chefs and the owner herself they all were very friendly and lovely to work with. I received all the help I needed to learn and develop my skills in that kitchen though it was quiet. All the chefs ensured that I learned something from them all including teaching me products which were not on the menu on extra quiet days. I handled the deliveries, storage and all departments of the kitchen. I had days where I would work a shift alone from seven in morning until five in the evening. Newry is a very small coastal place but beautiful with a lot of outdoors and festivals if you are an outdoor person. The local people I found them very friendly even though there is a religious history that I found very interesting when I had all the stories of it from my colleague. A part of that religious history march and celebrations took place while I was still in Newry.
My message to any future students doing Erasmus year is that life is always full of challenges, how you tackle them will determine the outcome results. Positive thinking, determination and being open minded helped me to overcome the challenges I had to come across during this year. Never loose heart because things did not turnout the way you wanted, rather work with what you have.

By Sindile Vundla @mournecountryhotel. Newry. Northern Ireland.

Overcoming challenges

Taking up BA Hons Culinary Arts course was very exciting for me. Mostly because I was looking forward to the 3rd year of the studies. Travelling, I had so much enthusiasm thinking of going to Shanghai. I was so lost in my dream of living and learning Asian cuisine that I forgot the biggest challenge of my life. As a parent studying full time is a challenge but going abroad when you have children is insane, so many will think but it's possible. I am deliberately posting this for those parents who wants to pursue their dreams but hesitate because they have a family. It is challenging but can be done. I soon realized going to Shanghai should remain a dream and decided on Canada, that did not work out either. The only thing left was for me to think rationally. Northern Ireland was recognized as an international country for students to take up both industrial and academic placement. That was the first challenge out of the way, it meant I can continue with my international placement closer to home. The best part was getting my work placement in Newry which is only two hours away drive to my family all that was very relieving.
The next step was to look for accommodation, I had never been to the North, so I had no idea where to start. The hotel had offered me a live-in accommodation, but I had to turn it down because I could not Live with a three-year-old at the work place and a childminder. I looked up estate agencies online and private postings, rang a few places but I had no idea how far those places where from the work place. Finally, I gave myself a task of finding from Google map the nearest areas to the Mourne Country Hotel and rang the places which were closer and arranged a viewing day. Luckily, I fell in love with one of the places I viewed.

 A spacious one-bedroom apartment in Warrenpoint just a minute walk to the beach and a playground right across the road it was perfect for me and my little girl. Of course, that meant 15-20 minutes’ drive to work
but it was worth. Warrenpoint is a very small town in Newry with loads of tourism attractions. My favourite times were walks on the beach after work and going to the ice cream parlour Genoa. I decided to start my placement during summer, so I could see my kids more often without worrying about taking them out of school. Also, the main reason was so I won’t have to worry about find a childminder on top of everything that was going on. Every week on my off days I drove to Carlow and took one child with me to help mind the baby while I went to work. Despite being away from home I got to see my children every week I overcome the first challenge by planning a little. Accommodation and babysitter was sorted I only had to start work and open the bank account, how hard can that be so I thought.
First I had to get a National Security number, that was not so hard the work place manager helped me making phone call and appointment. Opening a bank account was more challenging that I thought to an extend that I gave up on the idea of having one.

By Sindile Vundla @mournecountryhotel. Newry. Northern Ireland

Tuesday, 24 October 2017

Explorin' a city on your split

Cambridge is a city which is bursting with history, unsurprisingly as I have found out. Alongside the history is a wide range of modern art, ancient museums, chapels and some of the biggest universities in the world. I have found a large number of fellow Irish over here working in the industry too.
Everyday we start work at 7.30am and work through our lunch to about 4.30 and split to 5.30 then work the dinner service till 9 and leave for 11.30. Its a long 15/16 hour days that would take the toll on you if you didn't get out of the kitchen and explore.
Great St. Mary's chapel -
The tallest point in Cambridge

Apricot sourdough baked daily in the pastry section
A typical day for me starts with getting the bread mixed and into the proofing oven before getting ready to knock out the MEP for the day. Our mise en place is always a very fun list because all sections will work together to help get everybody finished on time for service. What I like most about working in Alimentum is the fact that we get whole animals, fish, vegetables etc in, there is no pre-preparation of produce before it comes in. This allows everybody in the kitchen to constantly learn from Chef Mark.

Each lunch service is at 12:00 and from 11:30 to 11:45 we have a briefing which will bring all staff together before service, run through the lunch bookings, new dishes, whats running low, a wine tasting and finally finish with a coffee. When it comes to service everybody runs their own section, so far i have spent the majority of my time on pastry while still spending time on garnish and larder.
Pear, Toffee, Hazelnut
A trial dish

After lunch we clean down, scrub the floors, take 5 mins and then begin to prep once again. Nailing down essential dinner place, as well as prepping each section prepares one item of staff food for the 5 o clock dinner. recently we have put so much effort into our staff food as we believe it reflects in your performance at dinner service.

Cleaning these beauties before dinner
We go through the evening briefing at 5:30 - 5:45 with the same schedule as morning the have service from 6-9.30, then have the same routine as after lunch, take 5, wash down, scrub the floors and then clear our fridges and freezers. so they're empty for the following morning. We finish at 11/12 and go home back in to start the grind again the following morning.

By Luke McLeod
@Restaurant Alimentum
Cambridge, UK