Mary's Story

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Mary's Story

I was really academic at school, so when I got A*AA at A-level, everyone expected me to go to University.

The result was a very unhappy and expensive eight weeks at Durham trying to do something when my heart really wasn’t in it.   

I took a GAP year after school, working for a Leiths trained chef, The Game Chef, in Somerset, which really fostered my interest in food.  I also did work experience with MasterChef winner Steven Edwards.  

By the time it came to going to Durham University I knew I didn't want to go, but I felt I had to fulfil expectations.  

In reality, all I wanted to do was to cook!  

I’d been lucky enough to do the Leiths Academy Introductory Certificate while I was at school, and those three hours cooking on a Wednesday night were by far the highlight of my week.  

Leaving University was a huge, terrifying decision, but I’m so glad I made it. Choosing Leiths was by contrast the easiest decision I've ever made and I've never looked back.  

“In reality, all I wanted to do was to cook! ”

I gained a huge amount from the course; I can't even begin to explain how much I learnt. The teachers were phenomenal and the course was so well organised. I met some amazing friends and made a lot of really great contacts in the industry.  

I can't think of a better career starter for someone who’s interested in food. The industry is huge and incredibly varied, so the options are endless once you've graduated from Leiths. Many of my friends are graduating from Uni now and they either have no idea what they want to do or can't get jobs. It makes me feel so lucky that I can make my passion into my career. My theory is that everyone has to eat so hopefully I won't be out of a job!  

Winning Student of the Year blew me away and I still feel really shy about mentioning it.  

After graduating I spent a few weeks working as a private chef on the French Island of Ile de Re, which was a wonderful place to be. Then I worked for Chef Nathan Outlaw in his restaurant in Cornwall.  

After that I launched my own restaurant in the Buddhist region of Ladakh in India.  

We’re serving dishes like South Indian crab cake with avocado to adventurous tourists. I enjoy the challenge of creating interesting menus with limited equipment, using local ingredients and observing religious restrictions on meat.  

We’ve had some great reviews on Trip Advisor and it’s so rewarding to see guests enjoying my food!


Author: Ailie Bishop

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