Explore Leiths Diploma Open House – 5th June 2024


Alumni Stories: Grace Truelove

Grace Truelove, 22, started her Leiths journey as a sixth-former, doing a cookery option with Leiths Academy alongside her A Levels. She went on to do the Three Term Diploma at Leiths School of Food and Wine, graduating in 2023 as ‘Student of the Year’.

How did you come across Leiths Academy?

“When I went into the sixth form, there was an option at my school to do cookery once a week. Leiths Academy ran it. I decided to do it more than anything because I always loved cooking and because they said it was such a good way to gain confidence before you go off to uni. I did that rather than an extra A Level. It was really fun and nice to have the balance after a lot of time in the classroom to just go and do something more hands-on.”

When did you start to think it might be the career for you?

“I was a bit all over the place when I left school. I remember my teacher coming to tell me I’d got a Distinction and obviously I was really happy. She said there’s the school in London where you could go and do the full Diploma but I think at the time, I didn’t think of it as a serious option because obviously everyone’s thinking about uni. Part of me really wanted to do it but part of me…I was really quite young for my year so I felt like me living in London would be carnage! I lived in the countryside and London felt very far away. So I went to uni at Exeter but it was mid Covid and I was only there for a couple of months. I think I left as soon as I had to write an essay! I started working with horses on an event yard and was cooking in the evenings to relax. I then realised maybe I was doing it the wrong way round and that actually I should keep the horses as a hobby and do the cooking as a job. It made a bit more sense!

I was really scared to leave uni. It’s definitely one of the scariest decisions I’ve made because obviously Exeter is a good uni and you just feel that you should stay. The one good thing for me that came out of Covid was it did give me the excuse to leave, because without that I think I would have stayed and done my degree and then I would never have used it and have just got myself in quite a lot of debt for no reason.”

How was your Diploma experience?

“I loved it. It was the best year ever I think. At school, the kitchen was always a very happy place if that makes sense. Going to Leiths, it was just like that but bigger. There were only six of us doing the course at school, so it was nice to go to Leiths and have a much bigger class of people all interested in the same thing. When I got there I just felt really comfortable. I never felt that at uni. I don’t know if that was because of Covid, it might have been. When I first started, I remember thinking I wish the course was longer but actually when you get to those last few weeks you feel ready, prepared enough to go on to something else.”

Did you feel more prepared for the Diploma after doing the Leiths Academy course?

“It sounds silly but more than the actual technical cooking, it was the organisation and washing up because my teacher at school was so on it on the washing up! You couldn’t have a single knife not washed up. I feel like it was drilled into me. Leiths was similar but on a bigger scale, in more of a professional kitchen.”

What are you doing now?

“I’m working at Elystan Street in London, on the pastry section which is really nice. I’ve been there for two weeks so it’s pretty early days. When I started at Leiths, I really didn’t think I wanted to be in a restaurant because you hear all the stereotypes of it being very shouty and quite male-dominated. Then, through Leiths, I went to Ballintaggart in Scotland. That was the first time I’d been in an actual professional restaurant kitchen and I loved it. I don’t know if it’s what I want to do long term but I think at least a few years to get that hands-on experience because that’s how I learn anyway.”


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