Camilla on her ‘stage’ placement at The Pig’s Ear restaurant
I recently finished high school in the U.S. (I’m from Missouri), so I’d been on the lookout for a full-time cookery course that I could sign up to. I wanted to do the Three Month Certificate course to help me decide if cooking is something that I’d like to pursue as a career or whether I should just continue to cook as a hobby.
One of the main things that attracted me to the course is the fact that it’s not a long-term commitment. I didn’t want to do a three or four year theory-based course. Three months is a really good length of time – I’ve learnt so much and it’s given me skills that I’ll use for the rest of my life.
I’ve been really impressed by the breadth of cuisines and dishes that we’ve covered in a relatively short space of time. We’ve covered everything from classical French cooking techniques to Italian, Moroccan, Mexican, Thai and Indian, the latter of which I had no previous experience of and probably wouldn’t have gotten chance to focus on back home in the U.S. It’s opened my eyes to a whole new range of ingredients and flavours.
Camilla and her fellow Three Month students foraging in County Wicklow
Outside of all of the hands-on cooking that we’ve done in the school, I’ve really enjoyed the field trips that the school organised – especially the foraging day. It was really interesting to see just how many different ingredients grow locally in a small area and then be shown how these flavours can be incorporated into a dish – it’s a new aspect that I definitely want to add to my cooking from now on.
My ‘stage’ placement at the Pig’s Ear restaurant was a really good learning experience for me. I got to work very closely with head chef Damien Derwin and during service, he’d make sure that he took time to pull me aside and show me all aspects of the kitchen, the plating and explaining the various different techniques used in creating the dishes. It gave me a real appreciation for all of the effort and organisation that goes into running an efficient kitchen.
Another thing I’ve loved about the course is the social aspect. I’m fairly young and hadn’t travelled alone before so I was a little apprehensive before I arrived, but I had no need to be. Everyone on the course is lovely and has worked well together. We’re all from different countries and backgrounds so it’s been really interesting getting to know each other and spend time together outside of the school.
Dublin has been a great place to come and study for 3 months. I’d describe it as a big city with a small town feel – there are lots of options of things to do in the evenings and at weekends and I’ve used some of my free time to see more of Ireland, travelling further afield to the likes of Galway and the Cliffs of Moher.
Towards the end of the course, my parents flew over from the States to visit me and were able to come to the last pop-up night. They loved the experience, especially my Dad! He’s a Coeliac, so eating out for him is usually quite a stressful experience, but he enjoyed it so much that he said it was the best gluten free meal he has ever had which made me really happy!
One of my favourite memories of the course will be learning how to make really good homemade pasta. I’m really happy to have mastered the technique whilst I’ve been here, so much so that I was given the responsibility of making all of the pasta for our final pop-up restaurant night – Ravioli with smoked caramelised onions, Jerusalem artichoke puree and Madeira jus.
Completing the course has made me realise that I do want to pursue a food career when I return home. I know from speaking to the tutors here that some past students have gone on to become private chefs on boats and yachts. I love to travel so that’s definitely something that I’m going to consider and I know that the course will open a lot of different doors for me so I’m very excited to get started!
Enjoying making Smoked Cheese Doughnuts with guest chef Barry Fitzgerald (Bastible)