Professional Cookery learner stories

Dumfries and Galloway College logoDumfries and Galloway College Academy

Dumfries and Galloway College is a leading further education institution with campuses in both Dumfries and Stranraer. The college is one of the main employers and providers of learning and training across the South of Scotland, with programmes ranging from senior-phase school partnerships to higher education.

Dumfries and Galloway College Academy is the college’s senior phase offer which allows senior phase pupils still at school to gain vocational experience and study qualifications typically not available to them. One of the college’s popular subjects is Professional Cookery at SCQF Level 4; this is available on campus but also delivered within Annan Academy and Moffat Academy as the schools have the required facilities.

Success Stories

SQA caught up with Nic Popescu and Sally Hammond, Chef Lecturers at Dumfries and Galloway College to find out more about some of the inspirational students who have studied Professional Cookery at the college.

There has been a number of positive experiences and success stories from learners; two recent students, Robbie and Connor successfully completed the College Academy route and went on to study Professional Cookery at SCQF Level 6 full time at college. Robbie and Connor are now employed at Claudio’s Restaurant in Moffat, working directly under Nic as a Sous Chef and Chef de Party.

Robbie and Connor said “We learned everything about the profession we are in today and really enjoyed the whole experience from the past three years. College is very practical and hands-on; the lecturers all worked as chefs, so they knew the standard you needed to reach and they passed on those classical methods for doing everything, from your basic sauces to vegetables preparation. For any dish, you start at those base points, and that was the grounding we’ve got from further education. If you want a career as a chef, that’s your starting point, that’s the cornerstone of your kitchen”.

In addition, one former student has recently opened her own restaurant; Beth Webb, a talented pastry chef studied in the 2019/2020 academic session and had a hugely successful opening of The Plough Inn in Wigtown in September 2021. Prior to opening the restaurant, Beth had an afternoon tea takeaway business.

Nic told us “Beth is very knowledgeable not just in cooking, but she’s growing and foraging her own vegetables finding creative ways to use it in peak-season, and making delicious dishes for the restaurant, which makes that restaurant very special and unique in our area. She’s working very close with the local farmers, sources as much possible product locally as she possibly can and embraces the season when things are cheaper, making a sustainable and profitable business”.

Abbie Thompson, who studied at Dumfries and Galloway College saw off many other competitors from across the UK to earn her place in the final of the Sustainable Seafood Competition, a prestigious competition organised by the Master Chefs of Great Britain. She was one of only 10 students to reach the final and used sustainably sourced haddock in her dish.

College principal Joanna Campbell said: “Abbie is a tremendously talented chef and it’s wonderful to see her recognised with a place in the finals of this prestigious competition. “Sustainability is at the core of what we do at Dumfries and Galloway College and to have one of our students embody these values in the way that Abbie has done is a source of pride for us all”.

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