Vincent Clist, Abinger Cookery School

The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 26th June 2017

Vincent Clist discusses his role as Head Chef at Abinger Cookery School and his own inspirations with regards to pursuing a career as a Chef.

Name: Vincent Clist

Place of work: Abinger Cookery School

Role: Head Chef

Bio: Vincent Clist has been a chef for 16 years and has worked in pubs and restaurants in Cambridge, London, Sydney, Melbourne and the French Alps. He has three years of experience with chalet holiday company Fish&Pips, during which time he also received the Times Chalet Chef Award. He is now head chef at Abinger Cookery School, which specialises in chalet cooking. 

Follow Abinger Cookery School on Twitter: @AbingerCookery 

Chef Skills

Vincent Clist takes us through his 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 on this role? 

One year and ten months.

How did you go into cooking?

I was doing my A-levels and in the summer holidays was working in the kitchen of our local pub to earn some cash. I loved the creativity side of cooking; I loved the part of working as a team with people towards the same goal. At that time of my life I loved the money as well. 

What made you start teaching?

The cookery school is connected to the holiday company I worked for in the Alps, and I happened to talk to them one day and they said they were opening a cookery school and if will be interested. So it just went from having a chat about it – then I came down and I loved the place and I loved the idea of passing my knowledge to people.

What do you like most about your job?

I like the repertoire I do with students – cooking nice food with them, teach them a few things – a few tricks and tips – and just talking to them as well, which you don’t get in a normal kitchen – you don’t get to talk to your clients, your guests – so I really like that side of teaching. 

What would be your five ultimate tips to cookery school students?

I think enthusiasm is great, showing attention to detail. Being organised, that’s one thing we try to teach them – how to organise yourself so you cook more efficiently. One thing we really encourage is to take notes, but also we really encourage them to take photos on their phones of everything they cook. It gives them a good reference point to rather just cooking following a recipe and not remembering what it was. If you’ve got a photo of it, you can actually see what you did. And it’s good for us as well, it’s good for social media. 

What advice would you give to anyone who wants to start teaching in a cookery school?

I think being passionate about what you teach because if you’re not, then it’s not going to transfer to the students. I find that I need a higher level of patience here than I need in a normal kitchen and you have to approach it in a different way. 

Why is it important for someone who wants to go into the hospitality industry to have an education?

It gives you the knowledge beforehand rather than not having a clue what’s going on. I can’t imagine doing it without any training. 

What is important for young chefs to include in their CVs?

As a young chef, you just got to be willing to learn – to be like a sponge and soak up as much knowledge as you can. Be prepared to work extremely long hours in stressful situations. As an employer, you have to know that the people you’re employing are fully aware of what they’re getting themselves into. 

Your school offers very short cookery classes – some of them only last for two days. Do you think someone can learn the basics of cooking in such a short 
time?

No. We try to teach as many techniques in those two days as possible, but it takes a long time. The apprenticeship program is three years, so I would say it takes three years to learn how to be a chef. But then again you’re always learning – I’ve been doing it for 16 years and I still learn every day.

How do you keep your students motivated to give the best of themselves?

I am myself being enthusiastic and friendly and knowledgeable. Make them feel comfortable as well because when they come here they can be quite nervous. 

How does working for a holiday company differ from working for a restaurant?

In any restaurant, I was working as a part of a team, and when I was doing chalet I was the only one doing the cooking, so all the pressure was on me. But then also all the recognition was for me as well. 

If you could go back in time, what would you have done differently in your career?

I would’ve probably travelled sooner. Instead of being happy with where I was working for two-and-a-half or three years, I would’ve moved on beforehand. Putting myself in different situations would have given me more knowledge.

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The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 26th June 2017

Vincent Clist, Abinger Cookery School