The End – Week 9 – Life at Leiths

The end. 

Feels weird writing that. I know it’s only been 10 weeks of these blogs, and that definitely isn’t a substantial amount of time in the long scheme of things, but in these 10 weeks I have learnt more than I ever thought I would, just looking over my notes for the course it is almost unbelievable just the sheer amount of knowledge you soak up. 

Then there are the friendships… I am genuinely lost for words. Just the most kind, friendly, loving, compassionate people I have ever met, and that is by no way an exaggeration. Working together in such a busy environment day to day has brought us together like I could never have imagined. There are so many to name but the people I have become closest to (and they know who they are) are now family. Every so often you get to meet people that make you smile a little bigger, laugh a little louder, and live just a little better, I found these people and they are 100% here to stay. 

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Before I go on an emotional rampage and evidently end up crying, I will get on to the week. 

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The week started with our theory exam! Ahhhhhhh! 

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I’m happy to say that it wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought it might have been. Granted, like the other tests we have had, there were a few questions that looking back on I could have answered differently but all in all I am quite happy with how it went. Time will tell.

We had that afternoon free so naturally we all went to the library and studied more to expand our knowledge… is what I would say if I weren’t lying. A lot of us went to the pub… at 11am for a glass of wine. HEY?! It’s 5pm somewhere right?

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This is a bit of a funny old week because it seems like a nice relatively easy going run down from the madness of the last 8 weeks. It’s that same feeling you get in school where teachers wack on a film instead of doing any ‘real’ work, but instead at Leiths we do ‘easier’ recipes such as going over what we have done countless times, or coffee eclairs! 

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So yeah Tuesday morning was a practical skills session, in our 1 on 1’s a few weeks back we were told by our teachers what might be good for us to go over. I did meringues, chicken jointing and a Victoria sponge cake. I’m happy to say that I nailed all of them, it was a really nice session getting on and doing my own thing. The cake turned out SO much better than the first time round (pity we weren’t getting marked but oh well), so much so that our teacher for the day Annie actually had to ask how I got the sides so great! Left the morning feeling VERY good.

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We were then presented with a demonstration on Christmas food gifts! I can’t really go into too much detail about this as there are people that read this blog that will be receiving some of the recipes made. I can assure you it was utterly fantastic though, and gave me some awesome ideas of how to save money, especially at this time of year.

A few nights this week I’ve been close to wanting to throw myself off something due to our Christmas cake competition. It is up to us to model things out of fondant and make them look pretty and nice. Fondant is annoying… sticky, crumbly, frustrating and although being very sweet, can actually leave a surprisingly sour taste in your mouth after trying to work with it for a few hours.

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Wednesday arrived with… what I can only describe as the best demonstration we have had. Annie and Sue, the absolute best comedy duo of Leiths presented us with the Christmas cooking dem. So roast dinner, all, and I mean ALL the trimmings, cured salmon, pate, left over recipes and more! All the while entertaining us with their wit. The whole class wore Christmas jumpers which made it that extra bit special too. Obviously we just had to get one big picture of us all. Probably one of my favourite pics of all time. 

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The afternoon we found ourselves in the kitchen, a bit delirious from all the food and high on laughing so much in this morning. We made coffee eclairs which, to be honest weren’t for me. I absolutely love coffee, STRONG coffee, but when it is laced with sugar it really isn’t for me. Never been a fan of coffee flavour in sweets or chocolate, never will.

Saying that they were delicious (after scraping off the coffee icing). I can now make choux pastry, happily, off the top of my head.

One thing I love is being able to know recipes now off the top of my head. Victoria sponge, mayonnaise, choux pastry, short crust pastry, bread, creme anglais! NO PROBLEM! Coming right up! 

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Thursday was a day a lot of us were slightly dreading as it involved a kitchen session of us all plucking and drawing (gutting) a pheasant to roast and serve with some traditional game meat trimmings. It actually wasn’t as bad as we thought it might be, yeah, I mean, the smell was somewhat overwhelming while cutting the bird open but all in all the morning went quite smoothly. I must say I will definitely be cooking the meal at home, game chips and fried crumb with a decadent game sauce is something of a thing of beauty. 

The afternoon we were told what we will be cooking in our practical exam next week! Ahhhhhh!!!!!! To all our surprise it turns out we will be filleting lemon sole! Just like in our mock exam! Which is quite nice of them.

We have a total of 3 and a half hours to prepare, ready for this…? 

A leek and gruyere tart, pan fried lemon sole with mashed potato and tomato and basil salsa AND Victoria sponge sandwich!! Phew… I think it will be good, we know all the skills needed pretty much inside out, the only thing that will be the issue is timing but that is to be expected.

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My exam is on Monday, so Sunday I will be practicing and timing myself to make the whole thing, quite exciting really, plus it gives me and my fiancée a very nice dinner for that evening.

Friday is here… my last full day at Leiths. I’m a bit of an emotional wreck as I’m writing this on the train on the way to school. I am kind of dreading the goodbyes as I know they will be so hard. I am proud to be part of the epic ‘supper club’ though which will be an on going thing for the indefinite future. 

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In the morning we had a fantastic dem on canapés. A variety of things I won’t go into but we got to taste them in the afternoon as the staff slaved away creating around 1000 of them to feed us hungry lot.

The afternoon was emotional. Really emotional. Our last cooking session involved a very fun 2 hours of decorating our Christmas cakes to the best we could. The whole year then gathered in the kitchen to be fed the canapés, drink mulled wine and show off the cakes we have lovingly been preparing for the past 6 weeks. Prizes were given out and everyone said farewell to the foundation students. We then swiftly made our way to the pub for a well deserved drink and send off. 

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I almost don’t want to stop writing even though I’ve probably been babbling on for a little too long. As me finishing this blog wraps up (chefs might say nappes) the end of the course and the end of my time at Leiths, but, alas, all good things must come to an end. And this is no exception. 

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So to quote one of my favourite films, The Truman Show (don’t judge) 

To Ste, Grace, Connie, Sophie A, Katy, Elouise, Lisa, Alex, Annie, Faith, Sophie F, Emilie and absolutely EVERYONE else that made my time here so special.

“Incase I don’t see ya, Good Afternoon, Good Evening and Goodnight” 

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Happy cooking guys x 

Thanks as always

Peace ✌️

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