10 months after speaking with Charlotte Clarke, Holiday Inn Milton Keynes East’s Apprentice Chef, we meet with her to discuss her success in winning Chef School’s Master Chef.
Having been nurtured by Kerry Gent, Holiday Inn Milton Keynes East’s Head Chef, and Sous Chef – Costin Gheorghe – Charlotte has excelled in her new career.
How do you feel you’ve changed since we spoke to you, just 4 weeks after you had started your Apprenticeship?
“I’ve definitely learned more skills-wise, but confidence-wise I’ve changed so much. Kerry and Costin [Sous Chef] have invested so much in me. They trust me – which has made me trust in myself for the first time.
The team here at Holiday Inn Milton Keynes East have helped me. Being able to live in the hotel whilst kick-starting my career has allowed me to take a step back and has given me perspective and the space to focus and grow.
I would recommend anyone who has the opportunity to live-in.”
What has been your biggest success to date?
“Winning Chef School Master Chef – I was really nervous before but just thought I would get it done and be proud of myself whether I won or not. And then I won! I just wasn’t expecting it.
It was actually really fun – you could be creative and create your own dishes.”
Charlotte’s MasterChef Menu
Louisa Ellis, 2017 MasterChef Finalist, also got in touch with Charlotte…
How did it make you feel when Louisa got in touch?
It made me feel amazing. She is a female Chef that has done really well – she highlights all the possibilities for me. I also didn’t realise first of all that my Head Chef, Kerry, had trained Louisa at the start of her career. Watch this space!!”
How did it feel to be the only female and still win?
“I didn’t even realise that I was the only woman taking part at first but when I did I was shocked… shocked and proud. It felt amazing. I guess I can no longer deny that I’ve got some skills!
Having a female Head Chef as a role model has been so important. Kerry is an inspiration. She’s really had to work to get to where she is. It’s important to be able to relate to them and see yourself in them.”
Has the Apprenticeship scheme been what you expected?
“No. It’s been better than I expected. There’s always a bad rep when it comes to apprenticeships but I have had the best opportunities. You get sent off on workshop days which are really good – you learn a lot from them. My favourite was bakery and patisserie – I seemed to just excel at that one the most. People were taking photos of my stuff which made me feel really proud.
A lot of it is to do with my team and support network – they have given me all the time I need to do my coursework and pushed me to be the best I can be.”
What has been your biggest struggle thus-far in the scheme?
“Having to push yourself to do new things is really scary. When I first heard about the competition I just didn’t want to do it at all. But having that support network and having Kerry as my manager, telling me I can do it, is what really matters and has kept me here.”
Is there anything you want people to know?
I just want everyone to know how amazing the team is here. Kenny [Bruce Russell], the General Manager, looks after everyone. And I know I couldn’t have done it without Kerry and Costin.
What would you tell 10-month-ago Charlotte?
She was a different person. I’d tell her to grow up and get on with it! 10 months ago I was struggling so I would say, “suck it up because you’re gonna do good!”
We thought we couldn’t post this without comment from Charlotte’s manager, Holiday Inn Milton Keynes East’s Head Chef, Kerry Gent…
How did it feel when Charlotte won?
“Like I’d won. Because we’re partners in crime. She is my prodigy.”
If you would like to find out more about our Chef School Apprenticeship Scheme, or any other careers within Kew Green Hotels, please get in touch by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.