Ruth Hinks, Cocoa Black

The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 1st June 2017
Ruth Hinks

Ruth Hinks discusses her role as Owner and Course Leader at Cocoa Black and her own inspirations with regards to pursuing a career as a Chef.

Name: Ruth Hinks

Place of work: Cocoa Black

Role: Owner and Course Leader

Bio: Ruth Hinks is the current UK World Chocolate Master. Originally from South Africa, Ruth has worked as a chocolatier and pastry Chef for twenty-five years. Following her success at the 2013 World Chocolate Masters, Ruth is now officially recognised as one of the top-5 chocolatiers in the world. In 2014, Ruth became an ambassador for global chocolate brand Callebaut. As the owner of the Cocoa Black Chocolate & Pastry School Ruth is passionate about passing on her skills to culinary enthusiasts and the next generation of chocolatiers and pastry Chefs.

Follow Ruth on Twitter: @Ruth_Hinks

Chef Skills

Ruth Hinks takes us through her personal experiences whilst being in the Culinary Industry. These key skills that young Chefs and industry professionals learn as part of their basic training.

How long have you been in this role?

Eight years.

What do you find most rewarding about teaching?

Just being able to share my knowledge, for people to come in not being able to do something and thinking ‘I’ve never done chocolate before’ and then going away with a big box of chocolates, and being there to give them that inspiration, to let them get to the next step. A lot of the people who’ve come here have gone on to start their own businesses and it’s really nice to follow them and I do follow them, because I’m proud of what they’ve done. Some people have taken the leap, I remember one girl who was an anaesthetist but she’d had enough, went into chocolate and now has her own business in Ayrshire and she’s doing really well. It’s nice to know that she came here, that I inspired her and that she’s gone off to live a dream that she’s always wanted to do.

Have you got any favourite dishes?

Probably my World Chocolate Master ones, but we’ve just changed all our products again now. We’re constantly changing all our chocolates to make sure we’re constantly improving, making things better. If something’s been around a while or isn’t selling then I’ll always make sure that we revisit the flavours.

I only make the things that I like, so in a way all the chocolates that I make are my favourites. I believe that you’re cooking with your heart, so if you cook something that you don’t like, it doesn’t always turn out right.

How many years in the industry would you suggest someone have before wanting to become a development Chef?

Well, I’m still learning! You never stop learning, I would always say to dad that I didn’t know enough, and he would say ‘Stop moaning and just do it’. I think the best way to learn is just that, just do it. Learn by your mistakes because you can never have enough, as long as you’re still trying things and experimenting.

I think it’s hard to put a time limit on it because some people develop more quickly than others, I’ve seen some that have already excelled and are doing a great job, and some that aren’t as far as others. I don’t think there’s a certain point where you can say ‘Right, now I know enough’. Generally, there isn’t a time frame.

What are you looking out for on a CV or in an interview if someone was applying to work with you?

They have to have a passion if they don’t have the passion they don’t have a point. If you ask people ‘Why do you want to be a Chef?’ and the answer is ‘Just because’, I’m not interested. All the girls in my kitchen know I’m a trained pastry Chef and they’ve all come to me saying how much they love cooking, and for me that’s what I look for. And the other things just go with that, you’ve got to be friendly and a hard worker, but the main thing for me is the passion and the spark. If you’re going to succeed, there’s no point in doing something that you don’t really love.

What are your ultimate top tips from someone looking to start a career in the hospitality sector?

Don’t give up! It’s so easy to go ‘Oh no, it’s too hard.’ I remember speaking to one girl and saying ‘I can’t believe you’re going from being a schoolteacher to running a pastry shop’ and she said ‘If you hated teaching as much as I did and you loved cooking as much as I did, you’d just do it.’ And she’s done extremely well, she’s not given up. Nothing in life is easy, if it’s something that you really want to do then you just have to stay focused.

If you were to go back over your career is there anything you would do differently?

No! I’ve been pretty lucky with my career, at times you think that you don’t want to work in a five-star hotel because of the hours but I don’t regret anything I’ve done in my career, just because there’s been something good in everything that I have done, I’ve learnt something, I’ve been able to take something away, so no, I wouldn’t change anything.

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The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 1st June 2017

Ruth Hinks, Cocoa Black