Alumni Stories: Louisa Matthews

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Alumni Stories: Louisa Matthews

When Louisa Matthews was planning her gap year she took the opportunity to enrol at Leiths and gain valuable hospitality experience. As she prepares to take up her deferred university place, she tells us what her culinary education and experience has done for her.

What prompted you to enrol at Leiths?

“I finished my A Levels and was actually supposed to be working in Australia for the year. I had a job but because of Covid it couldn’t happen. We had friends who’d done the Leiths foundation course and said it was amazing. I’d always thought it was something I might like to do, so I did it and it was amazing. I had so much fun and met really lovely people.”

What did you do when you finished the foundation term?

“After I finished the Leiths foundation course, there was still a chance that I was going to be in Australia from the January but that didn’t happen again so I was looking at a ski season. That didn’t work out because I don’t have an EU passport and was applying late [applications would typically be underway for ski seasons by November]. I had learnt so much at Leiths I thought I should do some experience in a kitchen to put my skills into practice. I did three months at the Pig Hotel in Brockenhurst as a commis chef which was an amazing experience. I learned so much.”

What are your plans now?

“When I went to Leiths, I wasn’t sure whether I was going to go to uni or whether I was going to pursue something culinary. But I’ve decided to go to uni and will be reading geography at Durham. I can go back to Leiths and finish The full three term Diploma course if I decide that’s what I want to do.”

Do you see yourself in hospitality?

“I would really love to do private catering in the holidays, working for families for a few weeks at a time. If I hadn’t done the Leiths course I would nowhere near have the confidence to go and do that kind of thing. Just the fact that I know I’ve had that amazing education in cooking and I’ve got my teacher from when I was at Leiths who said ‘you are very capable of doing this’. I now think ‘well, she thought that I could do it so I probably can!’”

“The head chef at the Pig said to get in touch if I ever wanted a job. I’m really glad I worked there because it’s given me contacts as well as experience in the industry.”

Author: Hilary Armstrong


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