#MadeAtLeiths: Mary Harding on cooking in an extreme environment

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#MadeAtLeiths: Mary Harding on cooking in an extreme environment

As part of our #MadeAtLeiths series, Mary Harding, who runs The Indus River Camp with her husband, shares her Leiths journey.

The decision to leave Durham University after just 8 weeks was terrifying. Little did I know that this decision was the first step towards a new and exciting career in food. Before university, I had completed a Leiths academy basic certificate at school and had worked for a Leiths trained chef in Somerset. Cooking was what I really enjoyed but at that time I felt I had to fulfil expectations and go to university. However, one year after starting at Durham I relocated to London and was starting the full Leiths Diploma.

My year at Leiths was thrilling and intense. I made great friends, learnt a vast amount and made handy contacts within the food industry. The course was well organised and the teachers were enthusiastic and experienced. The Leiths diploma is the best career starter for someone who wants to work with food.

The options once you graduate from Leiths are endless. With the food industry being so large it can be quite daunting. Fortunately, Leiths care doesn’t end at graduation. It was through Leiths List that I managed to secure my first job after graduating– cooking for a large family for 2 weeks on the Ile De Re in France. I was able to practically apply all that I had learned at Leiths, from budgeting and menu planning to pastry and soufflés. The autonomy I experienced during this job provided the perfect segue into working in restaurants and having the confidence to pursue more challenging private chef jobs in the future.

On my return from France, I worked for Chef Nathan Outlaw in his restaurants in Cornwall. During this time I learnt about cooking fish and seafood from the best in the business and gained knowledge on how a successful restaurant is run – knowledge that constantly aids me in running my own restaurant in India.

In April 2017 I took a detour from the conventional cooking career and started working in a remote Himalayan region in India called Ladakh. My now husband and I run a property called The Indus River Camp where we offer affordable ‘glamping’ in an extraordinary setting. I run the kitchen and thoroughly enjoy the challenge of creating interesting menus with limited equipment, local ingredients and religious restrictions. Last year another Leiths diploma graduate, Rona Jones, came to work for me, which was a great success, thanks again to Leiths List.

Going into our third season now, we have become a popular choice amongst both foreign and domestic tourists with many dates during our 5 month long season already fully booked. We have started growing most of our own vegetables, I have two very talented Nepali chefs working for me and I’m finally starting to create some cake recipes that actually work at 11,000 feet altitude!



If you dream of a career in food like Mary, come along to Leiths School of Food and Wine friendly open evening on 5th June, 2019: https://www.leiths.com/openeve...

As well as our full-time Diploma, we offer a range of flexible evening and online courses in everything from nutritious cookery to starting a food business.

Share your Leiths memories using the #MadeAtLeiths hashtag

Author: Ailie Bishop


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