Alumni Stories: Sam Pointon

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Alumni Stories: Sam Pointon

Sam Pointon’s future was all mapped out: school, university, job. Then Covid struck, giving him a chance to press pause on his university studies and explore his passion for food. Now graduated from Leiths with a Diploma in Food and Wine, he tells his story.

“I was at the University of Bristol doing economics and accounting and was about two years in when Covid happened. That, along with a few other things – I was dealing with some mental health problems as well – made me decide to defer for a year. I had a few sit downs with my parents talking about what I would like to do on a year out. Cooking came up, something I’ve always been really interested in and involved with. We joked about me going to do a few months in Italy with a nonna, then it was ‘how about culinary school?’ So I started looking into it. Leiths came up so I signed up for the foundation term.”

“After about three of four weeks of the foundation term, I thought you know what? I prefer this to uni. I’m quite good at it and it’s something I might like to pursue. I was meant to go back to uni this past January and finish the degree but I decided to take this opportunity to see where it goes. I remember I went up to Jenny and Jane [Leiths Diploma teachers] one afternoon and asked them sheepishly if there was any way I could do the next two terms as well. They said ‘yes, we’d love to have you’ and that was it.”

“To be honest, I wasn’t enjoying my university course anywhere near as much as I thought I would. When I looked into the future, I’d think, so I’m going to join the rat race and work a nine to five in the City, but probably not enjoy it like I am enjoying Leiths. It took a couple of weeks in the kitchen surrounded by people who shared a similar ambition to me to sway me. The university was quite helpful; I’ve got my credits so if I want to go and finish the degree I can do it in the future. There’s always that possibility.”

“I did a trial shift at Fallow [in St James’s] the Monday after graduation and they offered me the job there and then. I knew it was somewhere I wanted to work. I’m probably going to stick around restaurants for a couple of years because I think restaurant experience really helps going forward whatever you want to do in the industry. I’ve always had a passion for sports and am interested in nutrition so I’m hoping in the future I can try and combine the two passions, perhaps as a personal chef working with athletes. There are so many different avenues you can go down, stuff that hasn’t even been created yet. I’m not saying no to anything.”

“I felt stuck in a bubble at uni, even in school, [it was expected] I’d go to university. It took a lot to go ‘you know what, I’m not going to follow everyone else. Yes, people might judge me for not following the expected route but I’ve found a lot of people are quite impressed that you are actually doing something you are passionate about.”

Author: Hilary Armstrong

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