The End of the Road: Leiths Diploma, Term 3, Weeks 2-10


As I write this, the penultimate post in my Leiths Diploma series, I’m sat in my bed with my stomach in a bundle of knots because tomorrow I’ll be cooking for the last time at Leiths and taking my final practical exam. I’m nervous, I’m excited and I’m more than a little sad – these past 9 months have been a roller coaster of emotions but, ultimately, it’s been one of the best years of my life.

I haven’t been very good about updating my blog this term, mostly because I’ve been keeping very busy with life (I moved in with TS about three weeks ago!) but also because I’ve just been so exhausted I really haven’t had the energy to post anything. Sorry, totally my bad. But, regardless, all of you have been so lovely with your comments, your emails, you Tweets, even when I disappear off the radar completely and/or start having a mild mental breakdown. So thank you, dear readers, for helping to keep me sane, even when I let you down by posting nothing/of note.

But enough of my ramblings. Here’s what I did over this past term:


The End (Part I): Leiths Diploma, Weeks 8 & 9


Thou shalt have a fishy on a little dishy, thou shalt have a fishy when the, er, Eskimo comes in…

And so we’ve reached the end of the 1st term of the Leiths Diploma. Sorry there was no post last week but hey, lucky you, you now get a double whammy! Woohoo! Hearing more about how I broke down and cried at culinary school! Again! Yeah!

Just kidding… sort of… because I don’t think there’s been a single week I haven’t had a little cry about something, now. I can’t help it – I’m an incredibly emotional person and I put a lot of pressure on myself. I think it’s become a running joke at school now but at least I can laugh about it… right before I start crying again. So let’s start with the week before last and then I can get back to my little Eskimo up at the top of the post there which is a much happier ending, no? Yes.


Why All The Drama, Mama?: Leiths Diploma, Week 7


Ah the drama this week. The drama.

So I realise I haven’t really been writing very much since I started at Leiths – last week’s round-up post was particularly appalling in terms of readability and even as I hit the ‘publish’ button I couldn’t help but think that I wasn’t doing the writer in me any justice. Part of the reason behind it was the fact that I wrote the post very late Monday night, the day before I returned to school and so was very tired (and still had homework to do), but the other reason is because I’ve really been glossing over the minute details because you know what? Culinary school is hard.

I never really expected it to be easy but my God, the amount of work I do outside of school? The long hours? The sheer exhaustion, frustration and tears? It is so very hard – I mean it when I say I’ve never worked this hard in my life, because every single hour of every day I am busting my ass on all things food. Whether it’s time planning for the following week, reading up on theory and notes from demonstrations, or practising skills at home, I am constantly working and I am exhausted, both physically and mentally. I’ve already gotten sick twice but I haven’t missed a single day because I just don’t feel that I can – you would be missing so much.

So this week when I ended up in hospital I have to admit that it was really no surprise – it was just something that was bound to happen sooner or later.


By George I Think She’s Got It: Leiths Diploma, Week 5


Well, it took 5 weeks but I think I’ve finally found my stride. This week went remarkably well – I think it has something to do with the fact that we’ve been cooking in the afternoons which I find works much better for me. I think it’s because afternoon sessions seem much more manageable than morning ones; it could also be because I’ve finally started getting the hang of things and am in the kitchens a good half hour before we start, getting my mise en place started; maybe it even has a little something to do with the fact that this week we were mostly baking, something that I find infinitely more enjoyable (though at one point my classmate Lara laughed at me for staring too intently and seriously at my scones, lost deep in thought and pondering how done they were).

Either way, it was a week of successes – much needed after the past few weeks of disasters – and a definite confidence booster.


The Storm: Leiths Diploma, Week 4


Hard to believe I’ve been at Leiths for a month now. In some ways I feel like I only started yesterday and in many, many others I feel like I’ve been there forever. I’m getting used to the 3 different kitchens we work in, starting to learn where things live and what they’re all used for (though, as one of my teachers told me yesterday: no tin is ever actually called a bain marie. This may have come about when I failed miserably at her “game” of “what is this tin and where does it live” and just kept shouting, “BAIN MARIE!”), had my first 2 wine lectures (and have our first exam this coming Tuesday, eep!), and starting to learn whom among my classmates I work well with and, er, the opposite. Don’t get me wrong, I love my group, we get on very well socially… but getting along socially is not the same thing as working well together. You can love somebody’s personality but struggle to find equilibrium when actually cooking together – it just happens. I even did some washing up work for one of the evening classes this week – I didn’t leave school until 11.30pm but it was a fun evening and I made some money!

But this week… Lord, this week. I don’t know whether it was hard and stressful because the weather suddenly changed and the days were significantly shorter (one morning we even had to turn all of the ovens and some of the hobs on, just to warm up the kitchen so that we could bring ingredients to temperature), or whether it’s because last week we had a relatively light week, or simply because we’ve now reached week 4 when more is suddenly expected of us, but it was a very hard week. I asked a couple of the teachers if it had been just as hard for them as it had been for us and, eyes widening, heads nodding emphatically, they had heartily agreed. I think I’m also learning that I do not cook as well in the mornings as I do in the afternoons and I think that’s because I always feel rushed in the mornings; still, timing and speed is something I really need to work on, so that’s my goal for next week.