#MadeAtLeiths: Alison Hoy on Creating a Boutique B&B

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#MadeAtLeiths: Alison Hoy on Creating a Boutique B&B

#MadeAtLeiths Alison Hoy takes us through her decision to embark upon the diploma, countless 5am starts trekking to and from the school from Hertfordshire, and her culinary journey since which has led to the opening of her own boutique B&B in Weymouth.

Before joining Leiths I was the Head of School Improvement for a Local Authority. My days were spent in Primary and Secondary schools, mainly schmoozing Head Teachers.

I’ve always had an interest in cooking but just assumed everybody else did too (why wouldn’t you)? My early memories of cooking are of cooking for family – spaghetti Bolognese being an ‘exotic’ special back in the day. I was also a twenty-something of the dinner party era and loved entertaining.

Early in 2013 I had a bit of a health scare and it kickstarted me into making a few life changes – one of which was to pursue my dreams. I enrolled on the 2-week Cooking Skills course at Leiths in July 2013. I had such a fabulous time that I cried when I left! I remembered seeing full-time students and feeling so envious that I vowed to return to study on the Diploma course.

I joined the 3-term Diploma in Food and Wine course in September 2014.

I thoroughly enjoyed the course – the dems, the practical sessions, the theory (perhaps not the theory) and the wine sessions (oh yes, the wine sessions). It’s difficult to choose the most enjoyable aspect of the course. The teachers, the trainee-chefs, the atmosphere, the guest speakers (oh, how we loved you Tom, Frederick, Bruno...) – it was just all-round fab.

The main challenge I had was the journey. I travelled in each day from Hertfordshire (and I know I didn’t have the longest journey) spending many a morning stood on the station at 5.35am. I learned to use the time on the train and tube to study for theory exams, research recipes and gather lots of material for my weekly blog and the blogs I wrote for Leiths.

There are too many special memories to mention. There are two particular things that stand out and neither is really cooking-related. We had a very memorable afternoon in the kitchen when, for no particular reason, fruit kept disappearing from our benches and nobody had enough to decorate their tarts. The chaos was halted when Teacher Phil calmly yelled ‘show me your fruit – everyone should have 2 plums’. Phil was cross so we weren’t brave enough to laugh but the episode was, from there onwards, referred to as fruitgate. My second clear memory has to be Ansobe’s ‘man alive’ every time she became exasperated with us.

On leaving Leiths I formed a catering company with three of the loveliest (and talented) fellow trainees. We traded for nearly 2 years (and gained huge amounts of experience) before two chefs formed new businesses and I moved to the seaside (another dream of mine). We bought a bed and breakfast in Weymouth just 10 metres from the beach. We spent 4 months refurbishing to create a boutique B&B and we have just completed our first full season (www.theviewontheterrace.co.uk). I am delighted to say that we have moved from 166 out of 166 B&Bs in Weymouth to being number 3.

I have thoroughly enjoyed running my new business. Our guests have been amazing, and we have had some great feedback. I struggle sometimes with balancing the idea of achieving merit on the diploma course with now being lauded for my sautéed mushrooms and wild mushroom rarebit (breakfast specials)! I still make time (lots of it) to do some ‘proper’ cheffing and my friends, family and husband are happy to partake in recipe testing. The skills I learned at Leiths will stay with me forever and I often catch myself doing a ‘Leiths’ thing such as Leiths lemon wedges, turning the pastry as I roll (rather than rolling backwards and forwards) and scraping every last bit of the cake mixture out of the bowl, with Sue’s voice in my ear saying “that could be another cupcake.”

I would tell anyone thinking of enrolling on a Leiths course (short or long) to take the step. It is an experience never to be forgotten. I will never lose my joy of cooking.

The blogs I wrote whilst at Leiths and The View on the terrace can be found here:

https://traineechefahoy.wordpress.com/ https://theviewweymouth.wordpress.com/

Author: Alison Hoy


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