Nigel Stewart attended our Three Month Intermediate Certificate Course in January 2014. Since graduating from the course Nigel has been busy as a freelance private chef based mainly in Suffolk and Essex but also travelling further afield to cook for clients. We asked Nigel some questions about his decision to change his career and how he has found life and work since he left ENTCS. To contact Nigel visit his website www.theseasonedchef.co.uk or Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/The-Seasoned-Chef-1535766499969359/
Where did your passion for food start?
When I was young, my aunt had her own catering business and I always used to love watching her cook. My local scout group was also very active in cooking and inspired me to try different types of cooking.
What encouraged you to follow your passion and undertake professional training
After leaving a successful career in the City of London, I was keen to pursue my cooking more seriously. I realised that getting a professional qualification would be the key to my success.
Did you have a clear vision in your mind of what you wanted to do?
I knew I wanted to be a private chef in some form rather than working for someone else in a restaurant. I wanted to be able to manage my own hours.
Why did you choose Edinburgh New Town Cookery School?
Having worked in London for 30 years I wanted to make a clean break and start afresh somewhere new. I’ve always loved Edinburgh and thought it would be a great city to study in.
What aspects of cookery inspire you?
I have always loved using seasonal ingredients and these form a key part of the meals I now prepare as a private chef.
What are the top things you learned whilst at ENTCS that have been most useful?
Sophisticated baking techniques
How to plan and organise myself.
What path did you follow when you left ENTCS?
Having completed the course at ENTCS I worked for Mark Greenaway in his Edinburgh restaurant where I learned a great deal in a short time. I then worked in several different types of restaurants, learning different techniques in each place. Watching and listening to experienced chefs provided invaluable experience.
It is important that I communicate with my potential audience through social media and I share new ideas there including my pop-up restaurants which I hold at various venues and come in many different forms. They are always informal and good fun and are a great way for me to engage with potential clients.
What would you say to someone considering doing the same course as you?
Go for it but go into it with your eyes open. Listen to what is being taught even if you think you know how to cook.
Do you have any advice for newly qualified students?
Take time to work in different areas of the industry to gain some professional knowledge. Get as much varied experience as you can until you finally decide what you want to do.