#MadeAtLeiths: Xenia Murray on coming the full circle

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#MadeAtLeiths: Xenia Murray on coming the full circle

As part of our #MadeAtLeiths series, cookery teacher and freelance chef, Xenia Murray, shares her Leiths journey.

I was becoming increasingly dissatisfied with my successful corporate career and the international travel and office politics were taking their toll. I’d always been a happy amateur cook, throwing inspirational dinner parties and recipe testing with my neighbour, whose husband happened to be a wine merchant. Growing up I felt inspired as I'd watch my mother grow fresh fruit and vegetables (she still does to this day!), cook creative meals from scratch on a daily basis and her nanny would make the most amazing sponge puddings. My Austrian aunt would teach me to roll strudel pastry so thin you could see the pattern of a damask tablecloth through it! So I guess you could say food was in my genes!

Before starting the Diploma I had attended many of Leiths amateur classes, and having spent a week on an intermediate skills course I realised this was what I wanted to do with my life. It took me five years to finally take the plunge and sign up to the Three term diploma with the intention of completely changing my life. It wouldn’t have been possible without the support of many friends and family…

From the very first day I knew I was in the right place. The atmosphere of Leiths is very special. I loved every day - I’m not saying it was easy, it was hard work – quite different from office work as you’re on your feet all day and you're constantly being fed new information to consume. There were challenges, some great opportunities, lots of learning and even more fun.

Term one takes you right back to basics, and you learn the skills and techniques that will serve you well in the future terms and beyond. The way Leiths teaches is to layer knowledge, so you build your skills through practice and combining techniques. We got to cook with some amazing ingredients and to hear the guest chefs share their recipes and experience was exhilarating.

Sitting in a demonstration I realised I wanted to teach – to share my knowledge and enthusiasm for food. At that point I couldn’t see how I would make that transition. However, I have a passion for explaining to people where food comes from, the benefits of eating fresh ingredients and teaching how it can be cooked. Many people have lost sight of where food comes from and how to eat healthily. I have been part of a social enterprise near home, which is teaching people about food and how to cook on a budget.

On leaving Leiths, I worked in a small coffee shop which I helped transition to a bistro, becoming responsible for the kitchen and training the staff in cooking skills. I managed a few private commissions which was a learning process too – becoming more confident with the Leiths skills I’d learnt.

Having come the full circle, I was asked back to teach at Leiths. I can honestly say I have my dream job.

Training at Leiths gives you a confidence to face all sorts of situations; from stepping in to teach a class at the last minute to cooking in any environment with the most basic of equipment (think holiday home kitchens!) to preparing canapes for 350 in a church with no kitchen.

@xenia.murray

If you dream of a career in food like Xenia, 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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