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#MadeAtLeiths: Pete Dreyer on a ‘jack of all trades’ approach

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#MadeAtLeiths: Pete Dreyer on a ‘jack of all trades’ approach

As part of our #MadeAtLeiths series, food writer, Pete Dreyer, at Great British Chefs, shares his Leiths journey with his ‘jack of all trades’ approach to a career in food.

The year I finally signed up for the three term diploma at Leiths was probably the third year I had considered doing it. I’d always loved food, but had this idea that a career in the food industry would ruin it for me – a twisted sort of ‘don’t meet your heroes’ logic I suppose. Combined with the pressure of living and working in London, Leiths was the ultimate pipedream – that thing my better self would do if I didn’t have rent to pay and an ‘image’ to keep as an adult.

In all honesty, it probably would have remained that way had my mum not passed away at the tail end of 2015. It was a seismic shift in my life. I spent a month or two in a fog, and when it lifted, the landscape around me had totally changed. In the shadow of losing a parent, all other concerns fell by the wayside. In the midst of what was quite a complicated time, this decision was as simple as anything I had ever faced – my only reason not to do it was because I was afraid to fail. Two months later I had quit my job and applied to study at Leiths, starting in September 2016.

Leiths really was the only option I seriously looked at – as someone who knew he wanted to work in food but didn’t know much beyond that, the school offered me the chance to learn very openly and explore different career opportunities; from chef work in a professional kitchen to teaching to set-running on Saturday Kitchen. My decision-making process was maybe a little naive, looking back, but as it turned out, I was in great hands.

If you really, genuinely love cooking, every single day at Leiths is a joy – every session presents the chance to learn something new and improve on aspects of yourself. You’re surrounded by hungry people (literally and figuratively) who are equally as passionate as you are, and teachers who have a wealth of experience all over the industry. Between cooking sessions, exams, extra-curricular activities and other projects, the schedule can feel pretty relentless at times, but it’s all designed to set you up for the long haul.

I left the school still unsure of exactly what I wanted to do, but the answer more or less landed in my lap on the day I left. I saw an advert for an intern position at Great British Chefs; a website I used regularly to see what top British chefs were cooking in their kitchens.

My previous career in journalism served me well, it seems, and I’ve been at Great British Chefs ever since, working as part of an incredibly creative team that produces fantastic recipes, features and how to cook guides for keen home cooks.

In some industries I think my ‘jack of all trades’ approach might be a negative, but here it’s a definite positive – as well as writing features and interviews with chefs, I also develop recipes, style food for photography and video, and plan events. Leiths didn’t specifically teach me how to do any of this, but the school gave me all the tools to figure it out, even ones I didn’t think I’d need.

I always complained about how much pastry we had to make in our first term, convinced that we wouldn’t ever need to make it once we left school. I stood by that too, until I found myself surrounded by pastry for our very first cookbook nine months later.

To anyone who is thinking of going to Leiths and making a big change in their life, I would just ask them to consider whether they’re really passionate about food; that’s the most important thing in my experience.

Having the energy and hunger to learn and improve every day was the driving force in taking me from where I was to where I am now, albeit with a good slice of fortune along the way. What unites most of the people in this industry, whether they work in kitchens, dining rooms, offices, bars or wherever, is that they’re passionate about what they do. As long as you have that, Leiths will help you work out the rest.


If you dream of a career in food like Pete, come along to Leiths School of Food and Wine friendly open evening on 5th June, 2019:

As well as our full-time Diploma, we offer a range of flexible evening and online courses in everything from food writing to nutritious cookery to starting a food business.

Share your Leiths memories using the #MadeAtLeiths hashtag

Author: Pamela Daniels


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