It’s been a Very Long Time since I updated this blog. I’ve been entirely preoccupied working towards assignments for Nutrition and the Natural Chef course, and then working on exam preparation for both too. Unfortunately, my time management and organisation skills still leave a lot to be desired, although if I look back on the first semester of Nutrition I think I’ve got better.
I still have another year of Nutrition left and in contrast to how I felt at the end of last year, I’m really looking forward to getting stuck in. The course is supposed to get even more interesting and relevant to actual practice. I will also be doing the Applying Functional Medicine in Clinical Practice course, run by the Institute of Functional Medicine, next year, which will further broaden my horizons to other approaches. I’m excited!
But, for the Natural Chef course, I’m done! We were the first cohort in the UK to finish the course, which is really exciting. I was first inspired to do the course because I knew I wanted to leave my job, but needed something to push me to actually do it beyond just the Nutrition course. When I found the course, and found out that one of my favourite bloggers, Ceri Jones of Natural Kitchen Adventures, was the course director, the decision was pretty much made for me. If there’s anyone whose work I envy, it’s Ceri – she does all the cool things AND gets paid!
The course was a significant investment, and I didn’t really know what I wanted to do with it at the end, but I thought it would give me the opportunity to explore new options. At the start, the course had some ups and downs, but the college listened to most of our feedback and we moved to the wonderful Central Street Cooking School, an amazing space in St Luke’s Community Centre (if ever I grow old in London, that’s where I’ll be!), and the course got progressively better. The latter third of the course was my favourite – this was called Food for Health and where we started learning the more therapeutic side of food, and combined naturopathic and holistic health principles with everyday food cooking. This was exactly what I had signed up to the course for, and really extended my knowledge of the more practical application of what we learn in Nutrition.
But the best day of all was, surprisingly, the final exam day. We were expected to produce a four-course themed meal for 20 people as a team (there are 14 of us on the course). For our theme we chose Florabunda – a play on a rose hybrid name, with the aim to use foods that supports healthy gut flora. As you can imagine, it was right up my street! Initially I thought making the food would be straightforward as we split ourselves up into individual courses – I was on Team Soup and how hard can it be to make a soup for 20 people?! But I learnt SO much on that day. Although the actual recipes were straightforward, it was the service and garnishing that really threw us – it took much longer and much more effort than we expected. And that wasn’t anything we could learn on the course – it’s the sort of thing you can only learn by doing.
I guess the reason why we enjoyed that final day so much was because we were doing our very own recipes, we planned the entire menu to fit our theme…we were in complete control. And we also learnt how important team work is…and how selfless people can be when united by a common passion.
I’m not completely done – I still have to complete my internship hours. I’ve done roughly half of the 100 hours by helping out private chef Kate Waters and Ceri on her yoga retreats. Next week I’m off to Pembrokeshire, to intern with Grub Kitchen, which will be a completely different experience – full update to follow, I’m sure!
Although I’m still not 100% sure what I’m going to do with the course, all in all, I’m glad I did it – I’ve developed my cooking skills, I’ve had some inspiring lectures, I’ve learnt how to apply the theory of Nutrition more practically. But best of all, I’ve met some wonderful people. And I can’t wait to see where we all end up in a year’s time!