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Student Stories: Craig Morrison on his Diploma Experience

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Student Stories: Craig Morrison on his Diploma Experience

Current Diploma student Craig Morrison shares his experiences of career change, the Diploma kitchen and food aspirations.

The pandemic was weird for all of us, myself included. It wasn’t because of moving home to Dundee from London, the Tiger King, family quizzes, or the fact that I was so bored after being made partially redundant that I decided to tie dye all of my socks. It was because working from home made me realise I really truly hated what I was doing for a living.

After a few minor (they were not minor) freak outs about the direction my working life could go in I decided to make a shortlist of what I’d really like a career in, based on what I’m passionate about. The list consisted of two things: 1 - Food; 2 - Animals. Luckily I now work with both, just not in a capacity that the animals might like. I went on the Leiths website after some external encouragement, for which I’ll be eternally grateful, looked at the curriculum and thought “Yep, I’m doing that”.

Day one on the diploma was apple and spelt muffins mainly as an exercise to get used to the kitchens and I promise you- nobody has overthought the making of muffins so much in their lives. It was intense and they weren’t perfect but the incredibly warm welcome from Leiths staff and my class tutor Ben made for a positive first day. Fast forward to this week and I made deep fried monkfish cheeks with a citrus mayonnaise followed by a cleared lemon jelly with champagne and elderflower sabayon. It’s hard to believe that comes only 6/7 months after muffin-gate.

Obviously progressing and upskilling in the kitchen comes with a lot of personal effort but it doesn’t hurt having highly accomplished chefs helping in every theory and practical session. In fact, they’ve never answered a question with an “I don’t know”. My personal favourite teaching sessions were the Christmas and canapé dems as well as guest demonstrators including people from River Cottage, Philip Warren Butchers and Billingsgate Fish School.

There have been so many highlights in the practical classes but the overwhelming positive of all of the practical cooking at Leiths is how comfortable myself and my classmates feel working in what is essentially a professional kitchen environment. Whether the aim is to go into restaurant kitchens, private catering or recipe development the practical sessions give you so much confidence to go out into a world which half a year ago would’ve seemed completely daunting.

Following graduating from Leiths, I plan to move to Sydney and sink my teeth (pun intended) into the restaurant scene there. If and when I return to the UK I wouldn’t mind a job at Leiths, providing I don’t need to make any more muffins…

I don’t have a bad thing to say about the Leiths diploma other than the fact that I don’t really want it to end any time soon.

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