Explore Leiths Diploma Open House – 5th June 2024


Kelly Stretton

Private Chef

Manchester, United Kingdom


Graduate of:
Leiths Three Term Diploma in Food and Wine


Kelly is currently a private chef to a Premiership Footballer, based in Manchester, she works closely with world renowned nutritionists to create menus preparing her client for the Euros in June 2024. 

Her culinary journey began at the renowned Leiths School of Food and Wine, where she honed her skills and developed a deep passion for creating exceptional dishes graduating from the Three Term Diploma as well as the Nutrition in Culinary Practice Course and these qualifications along with her proven experience in the private and high end sector opened the doors into the elite performance world.

Kelly’s career began the summer straight out of Leiths, where securing a job through Leiths List took her to the sun-soaked South of France, where she catered to High Net-Worth Individuals (HWNI) by providing exquisite dining experiences that showcased her talent and creativity. Her time in France allowed her to immerse herself in the rich culinary traditions of the region, inspiring her to push the boundaries of taste and presentation.

Eager to share her culinary vision with a wider audience, Kelly embarked on a journey of her own with a pop-up restaurant based in a luxury workspace in Manchester, The Beehive, delighting guests with her innovative menus and flair for culinary artistry. Her time at River Cottage, a hub of sustainable and organic cooking, further shaped her philosophy of using fresh, locally sourced, organic ingredients to create dishes that are as vibrant and flavourful as they are nurturing and wholesome.

Kelly’s culinary odyssey reached new heights when she assumed the role of head chef at a luxurious chalet nestled in the breathtaking French Alps. Surrounded by stunning mountain landscapes and discerning guests seeking extraordinary dining experiences, with an open door policy to the kitchen Kelly was able to share her knowledge and realised she loved working in front of and collaborating with her guests allowing Kelly to curate personal menus that showcased her expertise, thoughtfulness and creativity, earning acclaim for her gastronomic prowess.

However, the global pandemic of 2020 brought unprecedented challenges to the hospitality industry, prompting Kelly to pivot her career towards a new direction. Drawing on her skills, adaptability, and passion for culinary excellence, she transitioned into the world of private cheffing for Premiership footballers in Manchester, where she remains, continuing to dazzle and nourish elite athletes with her culinary creations that fuel peak performance and well-being. Kelly’s journey is a testament to her resilience, creativity, and unwavering dedication to the art of cooking and serving others.

What were you doing before Leiths?
“Not dreaming big enough is what I was doing! I was in a job where I lived for the weekend and time off. I thought that was normal, that you earn money to fund your actual life. It was crushing my creative soul! My energy and excitement and passion for life were dwindling and before I knew it I was at a crossroads in life where I was simply more scared of staying where I was than taking a leap into the unknown! So I jumped… shut my eyes…and just ran all the way to London and through those Leiths doors! I knew immediately it was where I needed to be and soaked up all the knowledge I could, whilst praying for a 5 out of 5 in class (we all did)!”

What drew you to a career in food?
For Kelly, it seemed natural to follow her great passion for food and all things creative. “The idea that you should do something you love and you’ll never work a day (not true, as it happens!) I loved food, especially accompanied with wine. I love cooking, creating, writing; anything requiring an eye for detail. Art, photography and styling also came into it. So, food it was!”

Why Leiths?
After researching all of the go-to culinary schools across the UK, Kelly realised that the inclusion of a multimedia angle was of real importance. Alongside her desire to master cookery, she was also curious about food styling, photography and writing, with an ultimate goal in mind to work for BBC Good Food, and Leiths’ range of creative courses were the answer. “Not only did I sign up for the full diploma I signed up to all the media evening courses and weekend masterclasses I could fit in, with the idea that by throwing myself in, at the end of the year I’d know exactly what I wanted to do. Ha! Not quite! You just realise the options are endless! But exciting (and nerve racking)!”

Do you know what you’ll do next?
“I’m looking forward to a bit of a break from cheffing over the summer whilst the Euros are happening, where I plan on bringing my big folder of recipes and techniques into some form of order. I’d love to start joining my love of writing and cooking and hosting and bring food writing into my career, publishing recipes in magazines and online publications. Then I want to bring all my recipes, tricks, tips and travel tales together to create an inspiring cookbook for us all to create healthy nutritious meals for ourselves.”

Any advice for our future grads?
“1) Learn then conversions, yes all of them, its not like algebra, you will actually use these most days!

2) Jump, just jump! JUMP! I am also listening to myself as I type this, take it from a firm feet do not want to move-er, every time I have jumped I wondered why I didn’t do it sooner.

3) Don’t be afraid to dream bring and then don’t be afraid to go right after it, use your connections at Leiths, work hard, get in touch with people from an open and honest perspective, people appreciate this, tell them where you want to go and see if they can help. I was afraid to at the start but now I am someone who Leiths sends current students to, and I promise it is an honour to help, so don’t be afraid, you usually find people love to help if they can.”

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