Explore Leiths Diploma Open House – 5th June 2024


Seat at the Table: Jodienne Ball of Bake Yard

Jodienne Ball is the founder of Bake Yard, a social enterprise in south east London, established to meet the ‘kneads’ of young people through cooking, baking, and community building. She’s also a food technology teacher and graphic designer, currently working with the Black Farmer. Last year, she was one of the first cohort of Black hospitality workers to be awared a study scholarship on the Ben’s Original™ Seat at the Table™ programme in partnership with Be Inclusive Hospitality.

What made you apply for the scholarship?

“I was really intrigued. I’d been cooking a lot of Caribbean food from home and learning from family and friends but I wanted to see what it would be like to learn the professional way, the French style of cooking, and to get some advanced experience. I’d done some one-day courses with my local borough, knife skills and using a commercial kitchen, but I wanted to develop my knowledge.”

What course did you do at Leiths? And how did you find it?

“I did the Chef Skills course last January. It was ten weeks, evenings on Tuesdays and Thursdays and some Saturdays as well. It was quite intensive after work; I was working as a food technology teacher at the same time. I think my favourite days were the patisserie days. We made a banana cake, a really detailed one with banana drizzle and banana jam, everything from scratch. Learning how to use heat was another good thing and seasoning, using salt to get the best flavour possible and really learning to taste the flavour of food as it is, in its most natural state. I enjoyed getting to know other people on the course who were coming from different backgrounds as well.”

Did the course give you what you hoped?

“I picked up a lot of things that I use to this day even in regular homecooking, as well as for the business, especially the day we learned how to do bulk cooking as a group. We did a catering-style buffet and we had to work as a team to make three different canapés. That was one of my favourite sessions. Learning how to work as a team in the kitchen, learning how to use a commercial kitchen efficiently with those big gas cookers was really useful. At Bake Yard, we help train young people in hospitality, so we do workshops in the local community and help them through their Level 2 hygiene course. When we get catering orders, we choose one or two young people to come with us for paid work experience.”

So there must have been some synergy between what you’re doing at Bake Yard and what they do at Leiths?

“It was nice to see what it was like being a student that was one thing! Seeing how the tutors were with us, made me see how I can be more direct with the young people I work with and give them a better taste of what it’s like to work in the industry.”

Have you found the skills learned transferable?

“Yes, definitely. I won’t say the seasoning because we season differently but learning about time management and how to use a recipe better has been helpful. It has helped me to write some of my own recipes because a lot of them were handed down and not written down. Learning how to write recipes, and time plans every week, has helped me with doing my own and with training others. It was also nice to discover what is needed in a professional chef’s knife roll set and that is something I now carry to every catering event and workshop.”

As part of the scholarship, you also got three hours of mentorship. How as that?

“The mentoring side was really useful. My mentor was David Stevens, Group Executive Chef of The Wolseley Hospitality Group. He really helped me see things from a management perspective. He kind of let me take it down whichever route I wanted, so I was more interested in how to grow the business, to help young people. He had done some social aspects to his former business as well, training young mums to get into the hospitality industry, so he could give me advice there with the Prince’s Trust. He also gave general direction on how to write my staff guidelines and make things more formal. He’s given me his contact details to keep in touch. I got to see the Wolseley kitchen as well. They’re much bigger than ours with loads of walk-in fridges and freezers, a whole system happening down there! That was really nice to see and to get introduced to the chefs as well.”

Would you recommend others apply for the scholarship?

“Definitely, from any background. I found it very useful.”


Sign up to the Ben’s Original™ Seat at the Table™ programme here.


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