Sally Gardner

Sally Gardner

Sally Gardner attended our Three Month Intermediate Certificate Course in January 2015. Since she graduated she has had a wide variety of jobs and keeps very busy twith a wide portfolio of cooking jobs. We caught up with her to ask her to reflect on her time at Edinburgh New Town Cookery School and to find out what she is doing now.

Where did your passion for food start?

I always used to cook with my mum as a child on family meals and baking. She always encouraged my interest in food and its provenance by growing lots of fruit and vegetables in the garden at home: cucumbers, tomatoes, lettuces, root vegetables, herbs, berries, apples, potatoes, all sorts of edible flowers and much more, so the joy of cooking and eating home-grown and home-made food was always celebrated.

What encouraged you to follow your passion and undertake professional training?

I had left my 10-year career in teaching (secondary English) and went on a month-long cooking course in Somerset to give me time doing something I loved while I worked out what it was I wanted to do with the rest of my life! I loved cooking even more than I thought I would and began to think that I could make a career out of it. I had initially hoped to become a food stylist, but wanted real culinary knowledge and experience first.

Why did you choose Edinburgh New Town Cookery School in particular?

Geographic reasons were one factor as I live in Edinburgh and it allowed me to stay at home.However, when I first visited the school, I was so impressed with the facilities and Fiona Burrell explained the depth of the course that I would be immersing myself in for three months.The full range of classical skills were exactly what I was looking for from a course…to underpin my natural aptitude and enthusiasm for cooking with some classical training.

What aspects of cookery inspired you?

Learning the classical French methods. I love baking, too, to that was an aspect I wanted to develop further.

What are the top things you learned whilst at ENTCS that have been most useful?

Time-planning without a doubt! It’s crucial to ensuring that everything ends up on the table at the right/same time when working in catering as I do now.  It’s essential to know exactly what needs to be done and when.

How has your career developed?

After I left ENTCS, I worked as a freelance chef for Appetite Direct, various cafes around town, private clients in lodges and at ENTCS assisting and teaching some of the classes/events. I then worked in PR for the food and drink and hospitality industry for just over a year, before deciding that an office life was not for me.  I missed the practical work of cooking and teaching cookery, so began working as a freelance chef again. Now I have a wonderful variety of work as a chef for private clients in lodges, I am a chef at Ginger Snap catering company, I take cake commissions, teach at ENTCS, organise and cook for canapé events and any other cooking related work that comes my way.  I have even done some food styling work too.

What would you say to someone considering doing the same course as you?

Do it!

Do you have any advice for newly qualified students?

Say yes to everything at the start because it will give you a fantastic grounding and open your mind to all sorts of possibilities that you wouldn’t have known existed without trying them. Also, whilst it might feel as though you have a mountain to climb in terms of building up your experience, the more you do, obviously the more you’ll get there and the more secure in your skills you’ll start to feel.