#MadeAtLeiths: Susie Morrison on finding fulfilment through cooking

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#MadeAtLeiths: Susie Morrison on finding fulfilment through cooking

As part of our #MadeAtLeiths series, Susie Morrison, recipe developer, writer and private chef, shares her Leiths journey.

The last few years have been incredible: stressful, turbulent, but above all the most positive experience of my life. I’ve dabbled with death, been at my all-time emotional low, but I’ve risen, grown as a person and come out in the best place I have ever been.

Before I enrolled at Leiths, life had become a monotonous roller coaster. A near fatal accident in 2007 had left me needing many bouts of surgery and had quashed any hopes of starting a career. Yes, I worked, events management, retail etc but nothing pushed my buttons. I reached a point where I needed to do something for me; something that I would feel fulfilled with.

Ever since the word go I’ve been fascinated by food. Name a holiday and even at age 5 I could tell you what we ate and what it was like. I didn’t realise but food had been my passion since I can remember which is bizarre as no one in my family is remotely foodie.

I was, by default, the main cook in the household from an early age. I learned the basics from my mum, who, whilst a good home cook, hated every second, so she gladly handed over the reins. Cooking became my go to stress relief. When things got tough, I could bury myself in the kitchen and experiment.

It is perhaps the importance of food in my life that led me, at my lowest point in my Biological Sciences Degree, to develop an eating disorder, I could control the one thing that really meant something to me.

This was to ravage the next 19 years of my life so, in 2014, I took the bull by the horns and enrolled in the Leiths Diploma Course to become a fully-fledged professional chef. Yes, I was scared, what if I began to resent my passion and hobby? What would I be left with? But the lure of that qualification that could lead to so much more was too intense, confounded by the fact that I had just completed a one day course in patisserie at Leiths and loved every second.

Again, my past would creep up on me and I was forced to leave after only the foundation term as I needed more major surgery. Someone was smiling on me though and Leiths agreed I could come back to complete the course the following year. In hindsight, this couldn’t have worked out better. After recovering I struck a relationship with Michel Roux Jr, who allowed me to stage in all his London restaurants. This gave me such a buzz and I also staged at Blumenthal’s’ Hinds Head in Bray, Castle Terrace in Edinburgh and Boundary, under the fantastic Freddy Forster (more about him later).

Upon returning, Leiths was tough, time plans and a 4 hour commute each day above and beyond the cooking left me exhausted but happy, I was determined to achieve my goal. Leiths has it all, amazing tutors, guest demonstrators and a support network like no other. I graduated in 2016 with Merit, only a couple of marks away from distinction. I couldn’t be happier.

Having learned so much under the guidance of Freddy Forster, I was given the job of Pastry Chef at Le Pont De La Tour. It was amazing, he is an outstanding leader and I gained so much from my role. But, again, my health would intervene and I was forced to leave with kidney problems. But my luck was to change. I got back in touch with an old school friend whom I owe everything to. I wouldn’t be where I am now without her encouragement. She pushed me to set up freelance and begin writing recipes for brands and work on my own material for eBooks.

This is where my dream comes true. I now recipe write for brands such as Steenberg’s Spices and The Wasabi Company, my first eBook is getting published this year and I have taught classes for Riverford Organic, alongside working abroad and in this country as a private chef. Leiths continue to support me offering jobs as and when they can.

Unfortunately I’ve just undergone more major surgery with more on the cards but I know now that I have that drive, passion and qualification that the world is, indeed, my Oyster.

Author: Ailie Bishop


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