#MadeAtLeiths: Rose Ashby on a better planet through food

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#MadeAtLeiths: Rose Ashby on a better planet through food

Rising to acclaim among the young stars of the hospitality industry, leading the kitchen at Skye Gyngell’s London restaurant, Rose was named in the prestigious ‘30 Under 30’ list by hospitality publication CODE Magazine’s ‘30 Under 30’ in 2017 and she is still going strong.

I was raised in the kitchen cooking with my mother; growing up on the south coast on Devon. My mum is wonderful cook and got me at the chopping board at a very young age. Working in a kitchen was always something that I wanted to do.

I chose to do the Leiths diploma course instead of University, so I pretty much went straight in to it from school. Over my sixth form year, the Leiths beginner’s course was offered as an extra subject at my school, so after some time spent doing that, it was an easy choice to go to Leiths.

A thorough learning of all the fundamentals of cooking, as well as many valuable techniques were taught - which I really loved. In my day to day work as a chef, I so regularly use my skills learnt as Leiths.

Before the diploma I was quite inexperienced. Without studying and immersing myself in Leiths, it would have been a lot more challenging and progression through the ranks potentially much slower. After the course ended I felt truly confident that I could walk in to a kitchen and know what to do if a task was being put forth to me.

A friend of mine helped me to get a job at Petersham Nurseries. He was working there and recommended me when a position became available. It was the first time I truly had to connect with my pallet and cook thoughtfully. Previously I had worked for a catering company where food on-mass was the main aim and little time was spent pondering the correct seasoning or method as everything was weighed out to the last gram.

I am currently the Head Chef at Skye Gyngell’s, Spring Restaurant in Somerset House. With a daily-changing menu of seasonal British food, I manage a team of 25 chefs and run a 90 cover restaurant with a fortnightly changing menu, derived mostly from vegetables from our bio-dynamic farm in Wales.

The produce we receive from our farm, Fern Verrow is something I absolutely love and cherish. It really is like Christmas twice a week when it arrives. This is one of the elements that makes coming to work a joy and something I look forward to each day. The beauty and quality of the fruit and vegetables is really something to behold, and they taste how they should taste - guaranteed to have been picked only hours before by our wonderful farmer Jane Scotter.

I admire how the food industry is slowly but surely adapting to the issues humans have made for this planet. Cutting down on air miles, eliminating single-use plastic and buying sustainably sources produce are just a few of the essential steps to a better planet. These philosophies are practiced at Spring and the importance of encouraging people to think seasonally when cooking is hugely important to me.

Every day I long for more time, there is never a clock-watching moment. I so regularly hear friends talk about their lack luster office jobs and I am silently smug thinking about how much I love my job. I have a hard time imagining myself in a career where I sit behind a desk most of the day.

My main mentor would definitely be my boss, Skye Gyngell. I have worked for her for around six years and admire and respect her immensely. She is a huge pioneer for bio-dynamic farming, clean soil and sustainability and she influences all the chefs that come through Spring to follow these principles.

My ultimate goal would be to run my own successful restaurant one day and continue all that I have learned from Skye Gyngell at Spring. I hope to use a bio-dynamic farm which has good clean soil and truly seasonal produce.

Times are changing and not all chefs have to work every hour under the sun. We work 48 hour per week at Spring and regularly have two weekends off a month. In this day and age, you don’t have to work in an environment where you are shouted at or are made to feel insecure or fearful of getting it wrong. Find a friendly kitchen to work in - they are many of them out there.


If you dream of a career in food, come along to Leiths School of Food and Wine friendly open evening on 5th June, 2019: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/o/leiths-school-of-food-and-wine-15531720278.

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 to our diploma course.

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