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My Experience Working With Tom Kitchin

Olaide is a Demi Chef-de-Partie and she tells us about her experience working in Tom Kitchin's kitchen.

If you were stuck in an elevator with Michael Ward or someone you really look up to and you have 2 mins to make an impression, what would you say to him/her?

This was a question we were asked by Rebecca Williams when I enrolled for the course 'Having Presence' in March this year. Amongst many other things she taught us; was to always have questions prepared before attending talks, this way you can be sure to have some presence. When I knew I would be attending the seminar with Tom Kitchin during the careers week, I had a full page of questions prepared. I thought if people got to ask some questions, I'd at least have one or two more questions to ask. To my surprise, Ian Bailey who was anchoring the seminar asked all the questions I had written down, so I had to quickly come up with something while still saving my final question. As the session was getting to a close, my nerves started kicking in and all the reasons why I shouldn't ask that one question began running through my mind.

My heart beat so fast when Tom Kitchin replied with a YES to the opportunity for me to come work at his kitchen. The fact that Tom had just talked about, being curious, asking questions, being persistent and having to write different letters to different Michelin star restaurant to get some work experience himself made it a perfect opportunity to ask this question. This was a privilege I had never experienced and now all of this at the same time was surreal. I asked if a colleague could join me because the experience would be best enjoyed when shared and I got a yes from Tom Kitchin and the company. Harrods took care of us from the beginning to the end and we couldn't be more happy to work for a company that truly cares for us.

Our experience at the Kitchin was spectacular, everyone works so hard and are dedicated. The attitude Tom constantly mentioned during the talk was evident. I have a different level of respect for Chefs who work tirelessly to make sure the customers get the best. For these Chefs it was beyond cooking, it was love, passion, dedication, commitment, resilience and respect. These are young vibrant chefs who are constantly running, on their feet from 7 am to about 12 am (5 days a week). Despite how busy they were, they had some time to teach us and entrusted us to do some of the days work. They were grateful we came out to help but we were grateful that we ever had that opportunity. We also worked with Chef Dominic Jack and his team for half a day, he was so kind to treat us to some of their delicious and creative canapes. We wouldn't know how to make those as every business has got it's own secret, we came back with a new perspective and fire to keep going.

"If an opportunity was staring at you right in the face, would you be able to identify it?"

Quite often people talk about finding the right opportunity but they are so unaware of their surroundings and the happenings around them. It will only take being curious, asking the right questions and meeting/interacting with the right people for you to get to the opportunity that changes everything for you. I found those opportunities from the very first day I walked through the staff entrance of Harrods, working in Harrods was that opportunity for me, and I am determined to maximise it. Remember, opportunity doesn't always come in big packages, learn to identify them even in the smallest of things.

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