Bethany Carter, 17, from Rhondda has taken the first step to achieving her goal of a professional cookery career after securing a job at one of Wales’ top-rated restaurants, just one year into her college studies, thanks to work experience through her course.
After impressing bosses during a week-long work placement organised by her tutors, Coleg y Cymoedd learner Bethany has bagged a position at the Grove of Narberth’s Fernery restaurant, which holds an impressive four AA Rosettes – one of only three restaurants in Wales to boast the accolade.
Bethany, who has just completed the first year of a two-year Professional Cookery Level 1 qualification, which provides an introduction to the skills required to be a professional chef, will now work as part of the Grove’s front of house team, with the opportunity to further her career at the prestigious hotel.
With a dream of one day owning her own restaurant, Bethany’s hope is that her new role at the Grove will enable her to develop her skills within the hospitality industry, including her customer service and aptitude as a chef, to help make her future ambitions a reality.
Having enjoyed cooking with her grandfather as a child, Bethany’s love for food started from a young age, inspiring her to apply for Coleg y Cymoedd’s professional cookery qualification once she finished her GCSEs. The course prepares learners for a career within the hospitality industry, combining academic teaching with hands on experience within the college’s professional kitchens and restaurants. During the course, Bethany discovered that she not only had a flair for cooking, but also for front of house, and was inspired by her tutors and newfound confidence to enter a number of national culinary competitions over the last year.
Her passion for customer service, combined with her culinary skills, has seen Bethany bring home an array of awards. These include three awards at the Welsh International Culinary championships – two silver medals in the ‘front of house’ and ‘main meal’ categories, as well as a ‘Best-in-Class’ award in the dessert category, which she received recognition for her toasted brioche croute with pineapple, banana, and a salted caramel sauce.
Bethany said: “I’ve been so overwhelmed by the successes I’ve had over the last 12 months. If you had told me I’d be going to work for one of the best establishments in Wales this time last year, after completing only one year of my course, I wouldn’t have believed it.
“I used to be a really shy and anxious person, so it’s hard to believe I love front of house so much, but it makes me so happy to make other people happy by giving them great food and service. Going to competitions and interacting with customers during my placement at the Grove has only helped to grow my confidence even more.
“I’m looking forward to working with such a talented group of people at The Grove, learning more about the industry and gaining more confidence in front of house and customer service so I can maybe one day run a restaurant to the same standard as the Grove.”
While studying at Coleg y Cymoedd, Bethany has trained at the college’s commended catering and hospitality department, practicing advanced knife skills, front of house etiquette, cookery and kitchen best practice. She has also worked within the kitchen and front of house at Coleg y Cymoedd’s Rhondda based restaurant, Colliery 19, which is run by the college’s professional cookery learners.
Bethany added: “The first ever restaurant service I did at college was for 57 people and although it was initially so daunting, I really got into it and started to find this confidence within myself that I didn’t know was there.
“I can’t really put into words how much the tutors at my college have supported me through this last year.. They’ve pushed me to enter competitions, introduced me to key contacts in the hospitality, and have taught me so much about not just the industry, but myself and my own capability. I’ve learnt so much being here and I’m so glad I was brave enough to apply last year.
“Being at college has opened up so may opportunities for me, from awards to the very placement that led to me getting this job. I know people say it all the time, but I honestly don’t think I would be where I am without their support!”
Rhondda Cynon Taff