Kelly Stretton

Kelly Stretton

Head Chalet Chef

Graduate:
Leiths Three Term Diploma in Food and Wine

  • The French Alps
  • @kelstretton
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Bio

Kelly’s strong passion for fresh, local and seasonal produce and the belief that food is the starting point for our minds and bodies to thrive has taken her through nutritional chef training and many culinary roles. After qualifying as a chef, she headed straight to the South of France where she held the position of private chef in a beautiful chateau, with total freedom when it came to her menus.

Upon returning to the UK, she spent time in several top-rate kitchens and at The River Cottage, which she admired for its leading position on sustainable, fresh, seasonal and organic produce. This was followed by the creation of her own three-month pop-up restaurant concept in one of Manchester’s most luxurious co-working spaces.

Today she is enjoying working as Head Chef of a private luxury chalet over in the French Alps, where she uses her creative flair to design ever-changing, hyper-seasonal menus matched with exquisite wine pairings.

What were you doing before Leiths?

“Not dreaming big enough is what I was doing! I was in a job where I lived for the weekend and time off. I thought that was normal, that you earn money to fund your actual life. It was crushing my creative soul! My energy and excitement and passion for life were dwindling and before I knew it I was at a crossroads in life where I was simply more scared of staying where I was than taking a leap into the unknown! So I jumped... shut my eyes...and just ran all the way to London and through those Leiths doors! I knew immediately it was where I needed to be and soaked up all the knowledge I could, whilst praying for a 5 out of 5 in class (we all did)!”

What drew you to a career in food?

For Kelly, it seemed natural to follow her great passion for food and all things creative. “The idea that you should do something you love and you’ll never work a day (not true, as it happens!) I loved food, especially accompanied with wine. I love cooking, creating, writing; anything requiring an eye for detail. Art, photography and styling also came into it. So, food it was!”

Why Leiths?

After researching all of the go-to culinary schools across the UK, Kelly realised that the inclusion of a multimedia angle was of real importance. Alongside her desire to master cookery, she was also curious about food styling, photography and writing, with an ultimate goal in mind to work for BBC Good Food, and Leiths’ range of creative courses were the answer. “Not only did I sign up for the full diploma I signed up to all the media evening courses and weekend masterclasses I could fit in, with the idea that by throwing myself in, at the end of the year I’d know exactly what I wanted to do. Ha! Not quite! You just realise the options are endless! But exciting (and nerve racking)!”

Do you know what you’ll do next?

Her next steps will be focused on enjoying the new job in the Alps which she has only recently accepted, having spent the past 3 years working endlessly towards it. And...building my cookbook collection and having fun trying out new ideas.”

Any advice for our future grads?

Kelly believes that the pandemic has brought on a new need for chefs both in the yacht world, and for those stuck indoors in their homes. “The private yacht chef has never been more in demand as the uber-rich seek solace on their yachts as Covid settles onto land...Get out there, the rich will always need feeding! Even in a pandemic! And us mere mortals on land...The 99% in lockdown, need help with having to cook for themselves! They need inspiration, and they need it online, or training, or actual food delivered to their door. Take what you learnt in class, mix it up with your own talents and teach online, or sell recipes to already establish publications/ authors. If you need any help with this, contact Leiths and get those connections working for you. Good luck grads!”